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dropzone
10-11-2004, 05:17 PM
Mammy has always had a dual role in American society which I assume goes back to the children of Southern aristocrats being raised by nannies who were slaves: How could you keep in dehumanizing subjugation the woman who was, for all intents, your mother? Unlike other relics of slavery this one thrived into the 1960s and, to a lesser extent, later. Our most famous examples of Mammies are Mammy in Gone With the Wind, who was the most sympathetic and respectable character in the movie and I understand was portrayed even moreso in the book, and Aunt Jemima, but she has been PCed into a shadow of her former self. This is truly disappointing because I, and I assume others or else they would not have used her image to sell food, associate Mammy with a strong and maternal personality, an upright moral code, and, especially, GOOD COOKING. These are not negative traits and I rarely even think of slavery when I see a picture of a stout Black woman in a gingham dress, apron, and do-rag. No, my pavlovian response is salivation as I think of collards done by someone who knows how to cook them. However, over the years Aunt Jemima has been gradually made younger, more stylish, and thinner until now she looks like a Woman On the Go who prefers Thai takeout to fried chicken and who hasn't lit her stove in years. How can I trust the cooking of a woman like that? I mean, I've HAD the cooking of women like that and it wasn't pretty.

Are you offended by the Mammy stereotype? Why or why not?

BrainGlutton
10-11-2004, 05:33 PM
[al jolson in blackface]

Mammy!
My Mammy!
I'd walk a million miles
For one of your smiles
My Mammy!

[/al jolson in blackface]

monstro
10-11-2004, 07:12 PM
Yes, I'm offended by it.

You've named all the positive traits of Mammy, but the negatives are what stick out to me.

1) She's subserviant to white folks, either as a slave or as a might-as-well-be slave. She lived for white folks. Her every thought was about white folks and their needs.

2) She's always smiling. The smiling Mammy convinced so many that nigras loved their enslavement. The era of fake-happy, eager-to-please black folks is over, thank God.

3) Mammies always loved their white charges more than their own kids. She loves white folks more than her own people. She never has a bad word against whites (the people who oppress her), but she's always talking about those no-account, shiftless negroes. I'm looking at you, Mammy in Gone With the Wind.

4. She's ugly and asexual. In literature, she contrasts starkly with the beautiful white mistress.

5. She's loud, uneducated, and regularly engages in buffoonary. Who had the funniest lines in Gone With the Wind? But were you supposed to laugh with her or at her? Are you supposed to respect her?

6. She's a stereotype of black women. Stereotypes should not be encouraged, even if they are "positive".

Perhaps it's easier for whites (I'm assuming that's what you are. Apologies if I'm wrong) to forget/not dwell on these negative messages. It makes sense...Mammy would only be a beloved figure for whites. For blacks, she's a symbol of when we had to demean and humiliate ourselves to survive.

For awhile I had a personal boycott against Aunt Jemima products. It bothered me that this icon of the "bad old days" was allowed to exist, along with Uncle Ben's and the Cream of Wheat man. But now, I've come to terms with Aunt J. I still don't like it, but symbolism can change. Aunt J can mean "anyone's aunt" nowadays. That's how I imagine it to be.

BrainGlutton
10-11-2004, 07:20 PM
Perhaps it's easier for whites (I'm assuming that's what you are. Apologies if I'm wrong) to forget/not dwell on these negative messages. It makes sense...Mammy would only be a beloved figure for whites.

For most of us she's not any kind of figure, just a character out of one or two costume dramas like GWtW. I mean, how many white people nowadays were raised by black nurses? Today, rich people who need a nanny are more likely to hire an illegal from El Salvador.

monstro
10-11-2004, 07:35 PM
Brain, I didn't mean it like that. When I say that Mammy is only a beloved figure for whites, I don't mean that all or even most whites love her. I mean that only a white person could love her.

Zoe
10-11-2004, 07:55 PM
That stereotype endured beyond just the Aunt Jemima label even when I was a child. I knew that my father was politically liberal and that my parents had friends of both races in the 1950's. But in my mother's kitchen, she had a little wooden board that had a permanent list of groceries and supplies written on it with little pegs to move around to mark when she needed something. Painted on it was a Mammy figure with a quizical look on her face and the words "We Needs?" I guess it was supposed to be humorous.

I still have that board. It's chilling.

I guess the "Big Mama" stereotype is different in that she takes care of her own, she doesn't take any gruff off of anybody and she certainly is nobody's fool. Judge Joe Brown said that the title "Big Mama" has to be earned.

I would appreciate comments on that, especially from monstro.

Coincidentally, I had thought earlier today about posting a thread about women of color and the effect that they have had on me and that I have seen in the lives of others.

BrainGlutton
10-11-2004, 09:44 PM
That stereotype endured beyond just the Aunt Jemima label even when I was a child. I knew that my father was politically liberal and that my parents had friends of both races in the 1950's. But in my mother's kitchen, she had a little wooden board that had a permanent list of groceries and supplies written on it with little pegs to move around to mark when she needed something. Painted on it was a Mammy figure with a quizical look on her face and the words "We Needs?" I guess it was supposed to be humorous.

I still have that board. It's chilling.

That reminds me of the "jolly nigger bank" and suchlike minstrelsy memorabilia collected by TV producer Pierre Delacroix in the 2000 Spike Lee film Bamboozled.

I was born in 1963. To me and most whites of my generation, that stuff, and the Mammy stereotype and the minstrel shows and the "Yowzah, Boss!" are things we know only from old books and movies and museums. There's plenty of racist attitudes among us still, but the stereotypes are different now -- they don't envision blacks as stupid, cowardly, servile and ridiculous, but as crude, violent, drug-addled, overemotional and dangerous. (Like the characters in New Jack City or Boyz in the Hood or any rap number.) Whether that change represents any improvement is debatable.

dropzone
10-11-2004, 11:23 PM
I guess the "Big Mama" stereotype is different in that she takes care of her own, she doesn't take any gruff off of anybody and she certainly is nobody's fool. Judge Joe Brown said that the title "Big Mama" has to be earned.Big Mama is Mammy for the new century. Except that should've been the TWENTIETH century but Mammy overstayed her welcome. She was probably too busy raising Massa's children. (big, "don't hit me!" ;) ) But I try to avoid calling Big Mama a stereotype because people have such a negative association with the word. "Archetype" is more like it because it doesn't bring the same baggage. I know Big Mamas and find them utterly charming company and I know some women who are working towards earning the title. A strong woman, of any race or ethnicity, is more fun than a weak woman. Of course, it helps that I have reached the age where women start becoming Big Mamas and have similar attitudes so this White boy can laugh with them instead of being afraid.

I disagree, though, with Monstro on one thing: Sissy got funnier lines than Mammy. Now, Sissy was an unpleasant stereotype but I try to think of her as an unsophisticated teenager, not an escapee from a minstrel show. And Aunt Jemima is not like any of my aunts. For one thing, she's not crazy. She's like the aunt I never had.

Gee, you folks want some "fun" advertising from a hundred years ago? A few years back I saw this wall (http://www.cotbn.com/2003_06_08_archive.html) (you have to scroll down) in a primarily Black neighborhood and my jaw just dropped! The only reason I could imagine it hadn't been painted over was because it was so faded nobody recognized it except people like me.

BrainGlutton
10-11-2004, 11:30 PM
A strong woman, of any race or ethnicity, is more fun than a weak woman.

Well, actually, there's a lot of fun you can . . .

Never mind. Forget I said anything.

Eve
10-12-2004, 09:01 AM
Gee, you folks want some "fun" advertising from a hundred years ago? A few years back I saw this wall (http://www.cotbn.com/2003_06_08_archive.html) (you have to scroll down) in a primarily Black neighborhood and my jaw just dropped!

Omigod, the Gold Dust Twins! When my mother and her friend Norma worked in Miami during WWII, they got so tan their friends nicknamed them "The Gold Dust Twins." And that was in the Forties!

(I might add, one of Mom's less-enlightened coworkers would not believe she was Jewish, because she didn't have horns.)

FriarTed
10-12-2004, 10:23 AM
Omigod, the Gold Dust Twins! When my mother and her friend Norma worked in Miami during WWII, they got so tan their friends nicknamed them "The Gold Dust Twins." And that was in the Forties!

(I might add, one of Mom's less-enlightened coworkers would not believe she was Jewish, because she didn't have horns.)


Hey, if horns were good enough for Moses! *G*

I remember the Little House on the Prarie ep that dealt with that.

*Ghost World reference coming up*

I'm really having a craving for Coon's- er, COOK'S Chicken now.

Yeah, Cook's, that's right! whew!

gobear
10-12-2004, 10:56 AM
2) She's always smiling. The smiling Mammy convinced so many that nigras loved their enslavement. The era of fake-happy, eager-to-please black folks is over, thank God

You've never seen Wayne Brady?

Stuffy
10-12-2004, 11:51 AM
You've never seen Wayne Brady?


Ughh!! I get that same impression from Wayne Brady.

from Brain glutton
There's plenty of racist attitudes among us still, but the stereotypes are different now -- they don't envision blacks as stupid, cowardly, servile and ridiculous, but as crude, violent, drug-addled, overemotional and dangerous. (Like the characters in New Jack City or Boyz in the Hood or any rap number.) Whether that change represents any improvement is debatable.

I'd say it's a definate step backwards. Michael Moore had an excellent take on this in Bowling for Columbine. As a black man raising boys, it bothers me greatly that the image of the black man is one that induces fear. But to be fair, I think a lot of people get past that negative image. Anecdotally, sometime last year before I started working from home I was catching a bus from my office (in mostly white San Leandro) when I stepped into the street to see if I could spot the bus. As I was doing this a white woman in a car nearby locked her doors, a boy sitting in the car with her rolled his eyes at her.

dropzone
10-12-2004, 12:05 PM
stuffy, think on the bright side. If you live long enough you'll have the Uncle Tom/Bojangles stereotype going for you! :D

TeaElle
10-12-2004, 04:55 PM
You've never seen Wayne Brady?
See, I find this remarkably unfair. Apparently, if a black man doesn't spew profanities, talk endlessly about women and sex in degrading fashions or make race jokes, he's seen as pandering and only half a rung about Steppin Fetchit. How does that work? What exactly does Wayne Brady do wrong, other than fail to fit a stereotype?

dropzone
10-12-2004, 05:28 PM
He talks White; well, not Ghetto, at least. He sings Pop songs--old Pop songs. His jokes are no naughtier than PG. Old White ladies love him. And IIRC, his wife is not Black.

The man is an obvious sell-out. Exile him to Branson!

you with the face
10-12-2004, 06:15 PM
dropzone:

This is truly disappointing because I, and I assume others or else they would not have used her image to sell food, associate Mammy with a strong and maternal personality, an upright moral code, and, especially, GOOD COOKING. These are not negative traits and I rarely even think of slavery when I see a picture of a stout Black woman in a gingham dress, apron, and do-rag.


If I were an alien from outerspace, the Mammy image would not immediately cause me to think of oppression and subservience. But since I'm not an alien--and in fact, a black woman--I can't say that. "Mammy" reminds me of the days when the most esteemed status a black woman might hope to attain was that of the Beloved Maid for White Folks. Those days, amazingly enough, were not that long ago.

The picture of a stout dark-skinned (because that is an important part of "Mammy" icon) Black woman in an apron and head scarf does not make me think of MOTHER. It makes me think of SERVANT. Particularly when that image comes slapped on a food label. Is it fair that the same image of a white woman does not have that effect? No, it's not fair. Then again history wasn't fair when it made "Mammy" in the first place.

Menocchio
10-12-2004, 06:33 PM
White people love Wayne Brady because he makes Bryant Gumbel look like Malcolm X.

Does Wayne Brady have to choke a bitch?

Lumpy
10-12-2004, 07:38 PM
But in my mother's kitchen, she had a little wooden board that had a permanent list of groceries and supplies written on it with little pegs to move around to mark when she needed something. Painted on it was a Mammy figure with a quizical look on her face and the words "We Needs?"My brother-in-law had one of those in his antique shop! Ever since, I've been writing "We Needs:" at the head of my weekly grocery list.

Mr.Niceguy
10-12-2004, 07:59 PM
White people love Wayne Brady because he makes Bryant Gumbel look like Malcolm X.

Does Wayne Brady have to choke a bitch?

That was funny as hell !! Some of you guys need to see Wayne on that episode of Dave Chapell.

Mr.Niceguy
10-12-2004, 08:10 PM
As far as mammy is concerned, some people are just too easily offended. A figure like mammy is a part of our American culture. It is such a shame to loose that. The Beverly Hillbillies are still running on television you know. "Bubba" is the same type figure and people love it. Jeff Foxworthy and several other comedians have peddled that stereo type to the entire country and the people who love it the most are the "Bubba" types.

These types of figures, with all of their exgerated traits, are a reflection of real people who really exist. Got a problem with history ?

Stuffy
10-12-2004, 08:20 PM
See, I find this remarkably unfair. Apparently, if a black man doesn't spew profanities, talk endlessly about women and sex in degrading fashions or make race jokes, he's seen as pandering and only half a rung about Steppin Fetchit. How does that work? What exactly does Wayne Brady do wrong, other than fail to fit a stereotype?

Not true. I’ve ever made any criticism of Bryant Gumbel, Tiger Woods or any number of black celebrities who don’t do the ghetto routine. Personally I wish we’d see a lot less of the ghetto thing from celebrities, in fact there are black people I don’t watch for just that reason Mo’Nique and D.L. Hughley come to mind. I just find Wayne Brady to be, well a caricature so to speak, he seems like a character out of a musical. Overall he comes off as phony and disingenuous in my opinion.

Stuffy
10-12-2004, 10:51 PM
As far as mammy is concerned, some people are just too easily offended. A figure like mammy is a part of our American culture. It is such a shame to loose that. The Beverly Hillbillies are still running on television you know. "Bubba" is the same type figure and people love it. Jeff Foxworthy and several other comedians have peddled that stereo type to the entire country and the people who love it the most are the "Bubba" types.

These types of figures, with all of their exgerated traits, are a reflection of real people who really exist. Got a problem with history ?


Remember one of Eddie Murphy's early routine where he mentioned how modern brothers express disbelief that our ancestors didn't rebel at slavery?* It went over big time, I have yet to meet someone who hasn't laughed at that joke. It's not the history, it's the presentation. I'd like you to do the following thought experiment. Remember the worst day of your life; now imagine it was videotaped. Now imagine it being used to promote a ubiquitous product. If you need a ready example, have you ever failed to get it up? Now imagine Viagra using that moment as a selling tool.








*Just in case you've never heard it, it goes "Modern brothers act like they never could have been slaves 'man if it had been me and some cracker told me to pick up a bail of hay, I would have said f$$k you massa, suck my d@#K' it's not like they had a choice, I'm quite sure the first nigger that stepped off th boat said 'kiss my ass' then 10 motherf#$$ers with whips went "wooshpish" and the buys behind him said 'we'll bail the s@$t' man just kick back with those whips. Paraphrased, I believe it was on the "Comedian" album.

you with the face
10-12-2004, 10:57 PM
Mr. Niceguy
As far as mammy is concerned, some people are just too easily offended. A figure like mammy is a part of our American culture. It is such a shame to loose that.

The KKK is part of our American culture too. Should we celebrate imagery of burning crosses and white-hooded men brandishing nooses? I mean, come on. Just because something is part of culture (whatever that means), does not mean that it is wrong to take offense at what certain images represent.

The Beverly Hillbillies are still running on television you know. "Bubba" is the same type figure and people love it. Jeff Foxworthy and several other comedians have peddled that stereo type to the entire country and the people who love it the most are the "Bubba" types.

White people laughing at themselves is a bit different than white people lampooning a group of people it historically oppressed. Maybe this is a hard concept for some folks to grasp, but it really is not that difficult.

The Mammy figure was not a benign stereotype. If you look at most Mammy depictions, her African features are exaggerated and distorted to the point of ugliness. Big, pink lips. Round, tarry face. Big bloated eyes. Hair so nappy it had to be covered. There is nothing endearing about her, physically. The only "good" things about Mammy are her skills in the kitchen and her complete and utter devotion to white folks. Outside of them, she has no life, no needs, no ambitions. She is a servant. And unfortunately, this was the only image of black people that whites during that time were comfortable with. Anything else was a threat.

Mammy represents all that.

BrainGlutton
10-12-2004, 11:16 PM
A figure like mammy is a part of our American culture.

Yeah.

The minstrel show is part of American culture. In fact, you could say it is an important part. It is probably the only uniquely American form of stage entertainment, not in any way borrowed from other cultures, that we have ever invented. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minstrel_show)

Try putting on a minstrel show and see what happens.

Mr.Niceguy
10-12-2004, 11:25 PM
Mr. Niceguy


The KKK is part of our American culture too. Should we celebrate imagery of burning crosses and white-hooded men brandishing nooses? I mean, come on. Just because something is part of culture (whatever that means), does not mean that it is wrong to take offense at what certain images represent.

I am not saying it should be celebrated. Did I say that ? I don't think it should be changed, watered down or forgotton. It is what it is. Mammy, as well as the KKK, are a part of our culture and history, like it or not. Are you suggesting that we should put a kinder, gentler face on the KKK just like they have done to Aunt Jemima ? We stand to learn from our history, you know. Knowing where we came from is an important part of knowing where we are going.

White people laughing at themselves is a bit different than white people lampooning a group of people it historically oppressed. Maybe this is a hard concept for some folks to grasp, but it really is not that difficult.
I don't think a successful campaign that sold millions and millions of bottles of syrup could accurately be called a "lampoon". The figure was associated by most people with good, old fashioned breakfast.

The Mammy figure was not a benign stereotype. If you look at most Mammy depictions, her African features are exaggerated and distorted to the point of ugliness. Big, pink lips. Round, tarry face. Big bloated eyes. Hair so nappy it had to be covered. There is nothing endearing about her, physically. The only "good" things about Mammy are her skills in the kitchen and her complete and utter devotion to white folks. Outside of them, she has no life, no needs, no ambitions. She is a servant. And unfortunately, this was the only image of black people that whites during that time were comfortable with. Anything else was a threat.

Mammy represents all that.

Your opinion of beauty or the lack tereof is yours. You get to keep it. Caricatures are always exaggerated, that is a characteristic of them, not Mammy. You are right about the characteristics of Mammy. Do you think it is a good idea to just do away with Mammy, lest she remind us of her contributions, skills, opression, and general place in our history ?

Mr.Niceguy
10-13-2004, 12:19 AM
Remember one of Eddie Murphy's early routine where he mentioned how modern brothers express disbelief that our ancestors didn't rebel at slavery?* It went over big time, I have yet to meet someone who hasn't laughed at that joke. It's not the history, it's the presentation. I'd like you to do the following thought experiment. Remember the worst day of your life; now imagine it was videotaped. Now imagine it being used to promote a ubiquitous product. If you need a ready example, have you ever failed to get it up? Now imagine Viagra using that moment as a selling tool.








*Just in case you've never heard it, it goes "Modern brothers act like they never could have been slaves 'man if it had been me and some cracker told me to pick up a bail of hay, I would have said f$$k you massa, suck my d@#K' it's not like they had a choice, I'm quite sure the first nigger that stepped off th boat said 'kiss my ass' then 10 motherf#$$ers with whips went "wooshpish" and the buys behind him said 'we'll bail the s@$t' man just kick back with those whips. Paraphrased, I believe it was on the "Comedian" album.

That is what I was trying to demonstrate with "Bubba". Bubba represents all that is ignorant and unhygenic in white, American males. These people exist. Mammy exist. The reality of this is evident in the manifestation of Mammy and Bubba. Art imitates life, even when it isn't always pleasing to everyone.

you with the face
10-13-2004, 06:50 AM
I am not saying it should be celebrated. Did I say that ? I don't think it should be changed, watered down or forgotton. It is what it is.

What you said was, "As far as mammy is concerned, some people are just too easily offended."

Offended about what? The existence of mammy is a fact and is not offensive. What she represents is offensive because its a reminder of less than enlightened days. Mammy should be seen for what she is/was. Not as a sweet, wise mother figure coming to drown us in a river of syrupy love, but as a caricature of black femininity and a symbol of racism. That's been my point all along.

Mammy, as well as the KKK, are a part of our culture and history, like it or not. Are you suggesting that we should put a kinder, gentler face on the KKK just like they have done to Aunt Jemima ?

Well, would you feel comfortable looking at a real, unadulterated Mammy (http://www.ferris.edu/news/jimcrow/mammies/more/120.htm) on your bottle of syrup? Can't you see why a lot of people wouldn't?

Aunt Jemima is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of "Mammy" anyway. She doesn't look like a caricature. She looks like an average black woman. Her lips aren't stretched out of proportion, her skin is not made comically black, and her eyes are not bulging from her head. I think her current presentation is a good thing. I gotta wonder why someone would NOT think it's a good thing, actually.

We stand to learn from our history, you know. Knowing where we came from is an important part of knowing where we are going.

Uh huh. Your point?

Your opinion of beauty or the lack tereof is yours. You get to keep it. Caricatures are always exaggerated, that is a characteristic of them, not Mammy. You are right about the characteristics of Mammy. Do you think it is a good idea to just do away with Mammy, lest she remind us of her contributions, skills, opression, and general place in our history ?

If "Do away with" means scrub from the history books and museums, of course not. Does that mean we should put her face on syrup bottles, restuarant signs, and kitchen utensils to conjure up warm, fuzzy nostalgia? No. Some people may want to do that, but me personally? No thanks.

dropzone
10-13-2004, 08:37 AM
...Steppin FetchitWere I suddenly thrust into slavery the man would be my role model. (See Cecil's column on passive aggression. (http://www.straightdope.com/columns/030530.html)) Fetchit walked the fine line between being useless enough to not have to do any work and being so annoying that not even Shirley Temple would be pissed if you killed him. "But Big Daddy, he was so NICE! And look at all that money you threw away." "Nobody would've bought him, Honey Child."

Bryant GumbelBryant Gumbel's Black? (comparing forearms with Gumbel, his being more muscular but not significantly darker) Yeeesh, he's Negroid like I'm Irish--a significant fraction but not enough to want to drink green beer on St Pat's. Is there a cutoff, like Louisiana's old one-sixteenth? Should there be a cutoff or is that rascist? Is there a chance that it will stop mattering? I know that most people, white or black, in my generation have seen changes in themselves over the past forty or fifty years they would not have expected but most still notice a person's race, even if they try to not let that "color" their opinions. Is it true that younger people who haven't been through such enormous changes notice it less? Looking at all of the mixed couples at my kids' high school I see a light at the end of the tunnel. Ah, sex! The great homogenizer!

I just find Wayne Brady to be, well a caricature so to speak, he seems like a character out of a musical. Overall he comes off as phony and disingenuous in my opinion.A phony and disingenuous show biz person? That's unusual! ;)

Mr.Niceguy
10-13-2004, 12:19 PM
What you said was, "As far as mammy is concerned, some people are just too easily offended."

Offended about what? The existence of mammy is a fact and is not offensive. What she represents is offensive because its a reminder of less than enlightened days.

You are offended by a reminder of "less than enlightened" days ? So you don't want to be reminded of our history ? Where we came from ? You are actually offended by it ? I asked this before and it is an honest question. Do you have a problem with history ? Let me say again that our past is an important reminder that halps guide our future.


Well, would you feel comfortable looking at a real, unadulterated Mammy (http://www.ferris.edu/news/jimcrow/mammies/more/120.htm) on your bottle of syrup? Can't you see why a lot of people wouldn't?

Aunt Jemima is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of "Mammy" anyway. She doesn't look like a caricature. She looks like an average black woman. Her lips aren't stretched out of proportion, her skin is not made comically black, and her eyes are not bulging from her head. I think her current presentation is a good thing. I gotta wonder why someone would NOT think it's a good thing, actually.

You realize that "black" Americans are not so "black" anymore ? There is good atricle here. http://www.prospect-magazine.co.uk/ArticleView.asp?P_Article=12850 "Comically black" is an interesting choice of words. You ever met any African blacks ? Much darker than American blacks, "comically black" as you might say. There was a time in America when blacks were "commically" black.


If "Do away with" means scrub from the history books and museums, of course not. Does that mean we should put her face on syrup bottles, restuarant signs, and kitchen utensils to conjure up warm, fuzzy nostalgia? No. Some people may want to do that, but me personally? No thanks.

Puppys and kittens conjure up thoughts of "warm" and "fuzzy" sometimes too. While they can be that they also are sometimes filthy, flee ridden and unattractive. We still like the warm, fuzzy depiction. When I said that some people are offended too easily, I was evidently speaking directly to you.

you with the face
10-13-2004, 05:25 PM
You are offended by a reminder of "less than enlightened" days ? So you don't want to be reminded of our history ?

Seriously, are you being deliberately obtuse? In case you aren't and are truly mystified why a racist symbol would be offensive, maybe I should ask what you do find offensive.

What does the swastika represent to you? Would you consider that which it represents offensive?

What does al Qaeda represent to you? Would you consider that which it represents offensive?

What does a bloody coat hanger represent to you? Would you consider that which it represents offensive?

All of these things represent something, either symbolically or literally, and all of these things are "reminders of our history" (whatever that means). Just because something is offensive does not mean it needs to be shunned or ignored; it just means that it represents something that many (if not most) people consider to be harmful or wrong.

For most people, a swastika reminds them of anti-semitism. They would not like to see billboards covered in gigantic swastikas, even in an innocuous advertisement for car insurance. Why? Because swastikas are offensive. For the same reason, I would not like to be in a kitchen with wall-to-wall Mammy memorabilia.

You realize that "black" Americans are not so "black" anymore ?

And this has what to do with the subject at hand? Very few black people--even Africans--are actually black. Most of us are brown, quite simply. That has been true for a long while, but even to this day we are called black. But what is your point?

"Comically black" is an interesting choice of words. You ever met any African blacks ? Much darker than American blacks, "comically black" as you might say. There was a time in America when blacks were "commically" black.

Of course there are black folks so dark that they are actually black. That is besides the point. As you admitted earlier, Mammy is a caricature. Her appearance is an amplified and distorted synopsis of all the African features that white folks scorned. She has skin so dark it is blue. She has lips that are gigantic and pink. She is fat and shapeless, except for an ass out to Tuesday. And a shuck 'n jive grin that could kill Kool-Aid. She is made to be the antithesis of white femininity.

Puppys and kittens conjure up thoughts of "warm" and "fuzzy" sometimes too. While they can be that they also are sometimes filthy, flee ridden and unattractive. We still like the warm, fuzzy depiction.

Your analogy is terrible, man. Puppies and kittens do not exist solely as symbols. They exists as animals on the planet, love them or leave them. Mammy, on the other hand, is not a real person. She is a figment of racist ideology. Like all symbols, she inherently represents something.

When I said that some people are offended too easily, I was evidently
speaking directly to you.

And as you can see, I'm really broken up about that. Can't you see the tears in my eyes? :rolleyes:

monstro
10-13-2004, 05:38 PM
You are offended by a reminder of "less than enlightened" days ? So you don't want to be reminded of our history ? Where we came from ? You are actually offended by it ? I asked this before and it is an honest question. Do you have a problem with history ? Let me say again that our past is an important reminder that halps guide our future.

I fail to see how Mammy will help guide our future.

I know you were asking you with the face, but I'll answer your question.

There are many things in our history that evoke emotions. Mammy is one of them. When I see footage from Beaulah, a back-in-the-day sitcom featuring a Mammy caricature, I get shivers. I can't read Gone With the Wind without getting angry. I can't watch Imitation of Life without shaking my head at the black mother who is Mammy-like (and even makes pancakes, go figure). Even Gimme A Break (particularly the early seasons) harkens back to the Mammy stereotype (Why couldn't the writers have given her a husband and children?! Why was she overweight when everyone else was "normal" sized? Why did she have no "outside" life?!) These images bother me because I know they're born out of racism and misunderstanding. Is being "bothered" the same as being "offended"? And is this a bad thing?

You say:

These types of figures, with all of their exgerated traits, are a reflection of real people who really exist. Got a problem with history ?

Did Mammy really exist? Do real people look like this (http://www.ferris.edu/htmls/news/jimcrow/mammies/more/120.htm)?

You seem to be confusing the myth from reality. Yes, mammies as people serving a role existed. I ain't got no problem with the historical reality of mammies. I do have a problem with Mammy As a Stereotype in literature and the media. The stereotype is fleshed-out in my first post to this thread.

And I see no analogy between Mammy and Bubba. For one, no one ever pointed to Bubba as evidence for why white men are souless, childish beings who need to be enslaved for their own good. For another, the "Bubba" stereotype--if it exists--is self-imposed--imposed on whites by whites. Black people did not invent the Mammy stereotype. Whites did...back when they had black people by the short and curlies.

Bryant Gumbel's Black? (comparing forearms with Gumbel, his being more muscular but not significantly darker) Yeeesh, he's Negroid like I'm Irish--a significant fraction but not enough to want to drink green beer on St Pat's. Is there a cutoff, like Louisiana's old one-sixteenth?

Bryant Gumbel is black because both of his parents are black. He's black enough to be recognized as such from a distance (unlike, say, Julian Bond or Colin Powell). That's more than enough for membership in the Negrohood in the good ole USA.

capacitor
10-13-2004, 05:47 PM
I don't really object to the exaggeration of body parts in old caricatures of Black people.

I object to the fact that all the parts being exaggerated--except the nose!!

Blacks were once routinely drawn with small, black button, noses, as if they were big-lipped dogs!

Just about everyone else drawn to caricature have decently proportioned noses. But when it comes to drawing Black people--here's comes either the wrongly teeny-weenie nose, the Goofy black button nose, or the pig's permanently flared nose, making the caricature grotesque. Grrr.

pizzabrat
10-13-2004, 06:14 PM
I object to the fact that all the parts being exaggerated--except the nose!!

Blacks were once routinely drawn with small, black button, noses, as if they were big-lipped dogs!


That counts as exaggeration (based on what, I don't know...).

Mr.Niceguy
10-13-2004, 06:23 PM
Seriously, are you being deliberately obtuse? In case you aren't and are truly mystified why a racist symbol would be offensive, maybe I should ask what you do find offensive.:

Racist symbol ? Can you tell me what it is about mammy that is racist ? What about a black woman that can cook is racist ? What about a black woman that is depicted with a smile is racist ? What about Mammy says "people A are better than people B" ?

What does the swastika represent to you? Would you consider that which it represents offensive?

What does al Qaeda represent to you? Would you consider that which it represents offensive?

What does a bloody coat hanger represent to you? Would you consider that which it represents offensive?:

The swastika has been a symbol of good luck and prosperity for a thousand years, used by American Indians, Hindus, Buddhists, Vikings, Greeks, Romans, Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Mayans, Aztecs, Persians, Christians, and neolithic tribes. Does that mean anything to you ? Are you shallow enough to pen the holacost on a swastika ?

Al Qaeda represents a of group fundamental Islamist currently engaged in a religious campaign to influence world opinion and foreign policy towards the middle east. I am unaware of any caricature or symbol they might identify themselves with.

A bloody coat hanger represents a coat hanger which has by some means become contacted with blood. Could you give some more info on this one ? Is it human blood ? Was the coat hanger found at the scene of car accident ? I think maybe you presume too much about these things. This is a perfect example. Do you really expect me to draw some kind of rational conclusion just by seeing a bloody coat hanger ? Give me a break. Better yet, give yourself a break. You don't have to try and read so much into things. More often than not, you will be wrong.


All of these things represent something, either symbolically or literally, and all of these things are "reminders of our history" (whatever that means). Just because something is offensive does not mean it needs to be shunned or ignored; it just means that it represents something that many (if not most) people consider to be harmful or wrong.

For most people, a swastika reminds them of anti-semitism. They would not like to see billboards covered in gigantic swastikas, even in an innocuous advertisement for car insurance. Why? Because swastikas are offensive. For the same reason, I would not like to be in a kitchen with wall-to-wall Mammy memorabilia.

"Reminders of our history" These are things that remind us of our history. Things that make you think of the past. A ship in a bottle, for instance, may remind us how people used to travel and trade. I'm pretty sure english is your first language, are you being intentionally obtuse ? Mammy, or at least her parents or grandparents probably were delivered to the US on a ship like this. Do ships in a bottle offend you ?

Can you give a cite on what "most people" are reminded of by a swastika ? For a very long time it represented other things. Some still see it that way. Because you associate it with antisemitism should we all do the same ? Should someone who associates it with good luck and prosperity give up the symbol to accomodate you and your feelings ? Is it possible, just any slight possibilty, that you are offended too easily ? Could you possibly consider what others see in these symbols before you dismiss them as offensive in general ?


And this has what to do with the subject at hand? Very few black people--even Africans--are actually black. Most of us are brown, quite simply. That has been true for a long while, but even to this day we are called black. But what is your point?
Of course there are black folks so dark that they are actually black. That is besides the point. As you admitted earlier, Mammy is a caricature. Her appearance is an amplified and distorted synopsis of all the African features that white folks scorned. She has skin so dark it is blue. She has lips that are gigantic and pink. She is fat and shapeless, except for an ass out to Tuesday. And a shuck 'n jive grin that could kill Kool-Aid. She is made to be the antithesis of white femininity.

My point is that many of the black women, whom mammy was modeled after, looked like mammy. Look up Esther Rolle for heavens sake. She is not exaggerated beyond what anyone portryed in a caricature would be. You make refference to her being "comically" black. My point is, there was a time, mammys time, when blacks in America were darker than most are now. Like the melting pot that we are, people have melted together and many blacks in America today can claim more European genetic markers than African. Don't get offended just because mammy was "comically" black. She couldn't help it. She was probably born that way and thus illustrated that way. And what is your problem with a smile ? You take offense that mammy knew how to smile ? Are you for real ?



Your analogy is terrible, man. Puppies and kittens do not exist solely as symbols. They exists as animals on the planet, love them or leave them. Mammy, on the other hand, is not a real person. She is a figment of racist ideology. Like all symbols, she inherently represents something.:

Here is the real problem. Mammy does exist. She was modeled after real people, just like your little "Pound Puppy" was modeled after real puppies. I personally know several "mammys" myself. Black, female housekeepers that cook, clean and do laundry. Next you're gonna tell me that "Joe six pack", "Bubba", and "Soccer mom" aren't real people either. They are. They exist. The caricatures of these people represent real people and real characteristics of individuals.

bizzwire
10-13-2004, 06:27 PM
Just curious, DZ- what inspired the OP?

Did you encounter a recent-vintage "mammy" figure or did you just come across some artefact of a less enlightened era (not that we've made grat leaps and bounds, but we progress, we progress), and decided to get indignant (on someone else's behalf)?

Great Og almighty, Do you people actually go out of your way to find things to be offended by?

Ruby
10-13-2004, 06:31 PM
I don't wander into GD very often but I wanted to share this enlightenment.

Like the OP, I was under the (mis)understanding that "mammies" really did exist. I'm a 45 year old white woman who was born and raised in the midwest. My only point of reference was what I read, and that was the "Mammy" stereotype.

After reading the homepage (http://www.ferris.edu/news/jimcrow/mammies/homepage.htm) on the site you with the face previously linked to, I learned that what I understood to be a Mammy really never existed other than in the imagination of the white creators of it.

Fighting Ignorance Since 1973?
(No wonder it's taking longer than we thought)

Mr.Niceguy
10-13-2004, 06:50 PM
I don't wander into GD very often but I wanted to share this enlightenment.

Like the OP, I was under the (mis)understanding that "mammies" really did exist. I'm a 45 year old white woman who was born and raised in the midwest. My only point of reference was what I read, and that was the "Mammy" stereotype.

After reading the homepage (http://www.ferris.edu/news/jimcrow/mammies/homepage.htm) on the site you with the face previously linked to, I learned that what I understood to be a Mammy really never existed other than in the imagination of the white creators of it.

Fighting Ignorance Since 1973?
(No wonder it's taking longer than we thought)

Did you read the article ??
Records do acknowledge the presence of female slaves who served as the "right hand" of plantation mistresses. Yet documents from the planter class during the first fifty years following the American Revolution reveal only a handful of such examples. Not until after Emancipation did black women run white households...

In the 1950's
A fifty dollar a week worker could employ a black domestic to clean her home, cook the food, wash and iron clothes, and nurse the baby for as little as twenty dollars per week.

Mr.Niceguy
10-13-2004, 06:59 PM
This from the "Readers Companion to American History" :

In the pre-Civil War South, the wives of plantation owners continued to direct home production similar to that of prerevolutionary northern women and were responsible for social rituals and their slaves' health care. Much of the physical labor entailed in the mistress's jobs, however, was assigned to slaves. Slave women and children, often pulled from field labor, spun thread and wove fabric, cooked and served meals, washed dishes and clothes, swept floors, cleaned furniture, made beds, and provided deferential service available only to the wealthiest non-slave-owning families—fetching and carrying, and fanning and dressing the white family. Slave women notoriously faced sexual demands from their owners as well.

Domestic work remained a low-status job, but now it was identified with women of color, whose concentration in domestic work increased as African-American, Mexican-American, and American Indian women migrated from farms to urban centers and white women moved into other occupations. In 1920, 46 percent of African-American women workers were domestic workers; in 1930, 53 percent; and in 1940, 60 percent. (Even when industrial and clerical jobs opened up further during World War II, it was mostly white women who increasingly escaped domestic work, so that by 1944, black women made up over 60 percent of all domestic workers.)


Special interest have a thing for rewriting history you know.

you with the face
10-13-2004, 07:11 PM
Racist symbol ? Can you tell me what it is about mammy that is racist ? What about a black woman that can cook is racist ? What about a black woman that is depicted with a smile is racist ? What about Mammy says "people A are better than people B" ?

This will be the third time thislink (http://www.ferris.edu/htmls/news/jimcrow/mammies/more/120.htm) will be provided. Look at it and tell me if this is a respectful depiction of another person.

The swastika has been a symbol of good luck and prosperity for a thousand years, used by American Indians, Hindus, Buddhists, Vikings, Greeks, Romans, Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Mayans, Aztecs, Persians, Christians, and neolithic tribes. Does that mean anything to you ? Are you shallow enough to pen the holacost on a swastika ?

It doesn't matter what the swastika symbolized centuries ago by various peoples. My question was what does it represent to you. If the first idea that popped in your head when you read "swastika" was good luck, then no wonder you're having such a understanding my perspective. You don't understand a lot of things.

Al Qaeda represents a of group fundamental Islamist currently engaged in a religious campaign to influence world opinion and foreign policy towards the middle east. I am unaware of any caricature or symbol they might identify themselves with.

To most Americans, al Qaeda represents Bush's favorite word: terrorism.

A bloody coat hanger represents a coat hanger which has by some means become contacted with blood. Could you give some more info on this one ? Is it human blood ? Was the coat hanger found at the scene of car accident ? I think maybe you presume too much about these things. This is a perfect example. Do you really expect me to draw some kind of rational conclusion just by seeing a bloody coat hanger ? Give me a break. Better yet, give yourself a break. You don't have to try and read so much into things. More often than not, you will be wrong.

If you don't get that the swastika is a symbol for anti-semitism, then I'm not surprised the symbol of the abortion movement escapes your awareness as well.

"Reminders of our history" These are things that remind us of our history. Things that make you think of the past. A ship in a bottle, for instance, may remind us how people used to travel and trade. I'm pretty sure english is your first language, are you being intentionally obtuse ? Mammy, or at least her parents or grandparents probably were delivered to the US on a ship like this. Do ships in a bottle offend you ?

Oooh, you got me there. Your arguments bring me to my knees.

Can you give a cite on what "most people" are reminded of by a swastika ? For a very long time it represented other things. Some still see it that way.

Some, maybe. If by "some" you mean "basically none". We are talking about the year 2004, not some time long, long ago.

And you have to be really desperate to demand a cite to support the rather reasonable claim that the swastika represents anti-semitism to most people. A simple google search of the word "swastika anti-semitism" would tell you that.

Because you associate it with antisemitism should we all do the same ?

Of course not. Just because you don't (or claim that you don't) should we all do the same? Of course not.

See how easy that is?

Should someone who associates it with good luck and prosperity give up the symbol to accomodate you and your feelings ?

No, but they should be prepared to deal with people being offended. Demanding them to stop being offended because "look, it represents good luck and prosperity, see?" is futile. Not to mention, stupid.

Is it possible, just any slight possibilty, that you are offended too easily ? Could you possibly consider what others see in these symbols before you dismiss them as offensive in general ?

I never said everyone should find Mammy offensive. I said some people may not find it so, but I do. And then I explained why. You, on the other hand, have implied that it is unreasonable to find Mammy offensive. And in a way that makes no sense.

And no, I'm not too easily offended. You're too easily offended by other people getting offended, though.

My point is that many of the black women, whom mammy was modeled after, looked like mammy.

Like caricatures? I seriously doubt that.

Look up Esther Rolle for heavens sake. She is not exaggerated beyond what anyone portryed in a caricature would be. You make refference to her being "comically" black.

Cite for when I even talked about Esther Rolle, let alone called her "comically black".

Don't get offended just because mammy was "comically" black. She couldn't help it.

For cryin' out loud, Mammy is not a real person. She couldn't help it? Ha! The people who invented her certainly could. Black folks do not look like caricatures. They do not look like bug-eyed, fat-lipped, button-nosed (very true, capacitator!) subhumans. I can't even believe I'm having to explain this.

She was probably born that way and thus illustrated that way. And what is your problem with a smile ? You take offense that mammy knew how to smile ? Are you for real ?

Are you for real?

Here is the real problem. Mammy does exist. She was modeled after real people, just like your little "Pound Puppy" was modeled after real puppies.

Cite for this?

I personally know several "mammys" myself. Black, female housekeepers that cook, clean and do laundry.

And they look like this (http://www.ferris.edu/news/jimcrow/mammies/more/dinah.htm) , this (http://www.ferris.edu/news/jimcrow/mammies/more/face.htm), and this (http://www.ferris.edu/news/jimcrow/mammies/more/sensation.htm) ? At any rate, please don't call them Mammy to their face. They may sock you in the face for it and then sock you again when you tell them they are too easily offended.

John Mace
10-13-2004, 07:33 PM
I'm a middle aged white guy, anti Affirnative Action (preferences), anti identity politics in general, and I find the stereotype offensive. Sure it has its place in a historical context, but not in contemporary America. In fact, I find just the name "Aunt Jemima" to be offensive, as it harkens back to when higher ranking household slaves were called "aunt" or "uncle".

But as an aside, I never got the name as a kid, since to me it was "Anjamima". Being from Boston, "aunt" was always pronounced "ah-nt", not "ant", so the "ant" in front of Jemima never registered as "aunt". We heard it pronounced on TV long before we could read. :)

Mr.Niceguy
10-13-2004, 08:43 PM
This will be the third time thislink (http://www.ferris.edu/htmls/news/jimcrow/mammies/more/120.htm) will be provided. Look at it and tell me if this is a respectful depiction of another person..

I know some people who look very similar to that caricature. Check out this link:http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/wpa/index.html How about Emma Crocket. That is a real person. A real slave. Really wearing a doo rag. Really "comically" black, as you say. How about Charity Anderson on that page ? A real life house slave. You know, the kind that your afro-centric cite claims didn't exist. I know black women today who look alot like mammy. Are you saying these women are ugly ? That is your own standard of beauty. Keep it.


It doesn't matter what the swastika symbolized centuries ago by various peoples. My question was what does it represent to you. If the first idea that popped in your head when you read "swastika" was good luck, then no wonder you're having such a understanding my perspective. You don't understand a lot of things..

The first thing that pops into my head when I see a swastika is : "Gee, wonder who is using the swastika as a symbol and I wonder what they are about". I am not a prejudice person. I try to make concrete judgements before jumping to conclusions based on a symbol.

To most Americans, al Qaeda represents Bush's favorite word: terrorism..

Got a cite for "most Americans" representative thought of al Qaeda ?

If you don't get that the swastika is a symbol for anti-semitism, then I'm not surprised the symbol of the abortion movement escapes your awareness as well.

The swastika has been around for three thousand years. It is a symbol for antisemitism among many other things. I don't throw the baby out with the bath water. And I am supposed to know that a bloody coat hanger is a symbol for an abortion group ? Why on earth would you let these symbols pervade your thought process so ? Symbols mean different things to different people and if you can't see that then you are likely to to pre judge people based on a symbol ? That's just not smart.


And you have to be really desperate to demand a cite to support the rather reasonable claim that the swastika represents anti-semitism to most people. A simple google search of the word "swastika anti-semitism" would tell you that...

I am soooo shocked. A Google on "swastika antisemitic" will bring up antisemitic cites ? What a revelation. Why don't you try googling "swastika". Yeah, just swastika. Maybe you could learn a thing or two about how diverse the perception of the symbol is.

No, but they should be prepared to deal with people being offended. Demanding them to stop being offended because "look, it represents good luck and prosperity, see?" is futile. Not to mention, stupid.

Stupid ? That is a direct personal insult. Three thousand years as a symbol of good luck and prosperity, used by countless cultures and civilization and think pointing that out is stupid of me ? I think your take is really stupid.

I never said everyone should find Mammy offensive. I said some people may not find it so, but I do. And then I explained why. You, on the other hand, have implied that it is unreasonable to find Mammy offensive. And in a way that makes no sense.

I said that somer people are too easily offended. You are. I see no need to take offense at a caricature that depicts a happy black woman that can cook and clean. No more than the need to get offended when "Bubba" is depisted as an illiterate, beer drinking, inbred embasil. It happens.

And no, I'm not too easily offended. You're too easily offended by other people getting offended, though..

That is just too damn funny. :D

Cite for when I even talked about Esther Rolle, let alone called her "comically black"..

I didn't say you ever mentioned Ms. Rolle. I just gave her as an example. You say that people don't look like mammy. Some do. Have someone draw a caricature of Esther Rolle and voila ! Mammy.

For cryin' out loud, Mammy is not a real person. She couldn't help it? Ha! The people who invented her certainly could. Black folks do not look like caricatures. They do not look like bug-eyed, fat-lipped, button-nosed (very true, capacitator!) subhumans. I can't even believe I'm having to explain this.

Mammy is just as real as "Bubba" and "soccer mom" Look again:http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/wpa/index.html Emma Crocket is just the type of woman mammy was modeled after. If you deny that, you are just blind. I can find you many more real potos of real, "comically" black, doo rag wearing and flour sack dress wearing, large house servants.

At any rate, please don't call them Mammy to their face. They may sock you in the face for it and then sock you again when you tell them they are too easily offended.

Implications of violence are not needed.

Mr.Niceguy
10-13-2004, 08:57 PM
It has been said here that the depiction of the happy "mammy" house servant was just made up by white folks. That is not true. This is a bit of what Charity Anderson had to say when reflecting on her days as a slave house servant in Alabama. Note the description of her clothing.

the skirt, and her black and white checked apron, white head rag, be-spectaled eyes, sitting in a rocking chair before a fire, sorting and folding clean rags, carried one back to the days of long ago, when she told of her happy life before the Civil War.
She said "Missy, peoples don't live now, and niggers ain't got no manners, and don't know nothin' about waitin' on white folks. I kin remember de days when I was one of de house servants. Dere was six of us in de ol' marster's house, me, Sarai, Lou, Hester, Jerry and Joe. Us didn't know nothin' but good times den. My job was lookin' a'ter de corner table whar nothin' but de desserts sat. Jo and Jerry were de table boys, and dey ne'ber touched nothin' wid dere hans', dey used de waiter to pass things wid. My! dem was good ol' days.

"My old Marster was a good man, he treated all his slaves kind, and took care of dem, he wanted to leave dem hisn chillun. It sho' was hard for us older uns to keep de little cullered chillun out ob de dinin' room whar ol marster ate, cause when dey would slip in and stan' by his cheer, when he finished eatin' he would fix a plate and gib dem and dey would set on de hearth and eat. But honey chile, all white folks warn 't good to dere slaves, cause I'se seen pore niggers almos' tore up by dogs, and whipped unmercifully, when dey did'nt do lack de white folks say . But thank God I had good white folks, dey sho' did trus' me to, I had charge of all de keys in the house and I waited on de Missy and de chillun. I laid out all dey clos' on


The contention that house servants were not happy is based purely on modern ideas of happiness. Even though Charity herself speaks unmistakably well of how happy she was as a house servant, modern historians ignore this in favor of their own belief that Charity just couldn't have been happy, after all who could be happy like that. This is a real person. She really lived and loved and spoke well of her life as a "mammy" type house servant. Is it possible that real life people like Charity had something to do with the perception of the happy "mammy" or do you still insist this is all a figment of them mean ol' white folks imagination ?

Mr.Niceguy
10-13-2004, 09:14 PM
http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/wpa/durham1.html

I was glad when de was stopped kaze den me an' Exter could be together all de time 'stead of Saturday an' Sunday. After we was free we lived right on at Marse George's plantation a long time. We rented de lan' for a fo'th of what we made, den after while we bought a farm. We paid three hundred dollars we done saved. We had a hoss, a steer, a cow an' two pigs, 'sides some chickens an' fo' geese. Mis' Betsy went up in de attic an' give us enough goose feathers to make two pillows, den she give us a table an' some chairs. She give us some dishes too. Marse George give Exter a bushel of seed cawn and some seed wheat, den he tole him to go down to de barn an' get a bag of cotton seed. We got all dis den we hitched up de wagon an' th'owed in de passel of chillun an' moved to our new farm, an' de chillun was put to work in de fiel'; dey growed up in de fiel' kaze dey was put to work time dey could walk good.

Freedom is all right, but de niggers was better off befo' surrender, kaze den dey was looked after an' dey didn' get in no trouble fightin' an' killin' like dey do dese days. If a nigger cut up an' got sassy in slavery times, his Ole Marse give him a good whippin' an' he went way back an' set down an' 'haved hese'f. If he was sick, Marse an' Mistis looked after him, an' if he needed store medicine, it was bought an' give to him; he didn' have to pay nothin'. Dey didn' even have to think 'bout clothes nor nothin' like dat, dey was wove an' made an' give to dem. Maybe everybody's Marse and Mistis wuzn' good as Marse George and Mis' Betsy, but dey was de same as a mammy an' pappy to us niggers."



Check out this cite of actual interviews with actual former slaves if you want to know if the "mammy" stereo type was accurate or just made up. The truth speaks for itself. Of course, by todays standards the above words can be hard to swallow but these are the words of the people themselves at or near the ends of their lives after the end of slavery. Many of these people were happy with their lot in life. Just because you feel that you couldn't be happy with that does not change the fact that they were happy. Rewriting this history is a big friggin sham.

you with the face
10-13-2004, 11:29 PM
Mr. Niceguy, what is your point? The OP asks if the mammy stereotype offensive. A few of us have said that it is. We've explained why it is offensive. To us . We haven't said that everyone should find it offensive. We haven't mandated a particular emotional response. We've expressed a view point that says why Mammy is not something we get all goose pimply (in a good way) about.

You, on the other hand, seem to think this is irrational and unreasonable. You think we are too easily offended. At one time, you say Mammy is a caricature. The next time, you say Mammy is a real person and you actually know real live "mammies". You point to Esther Rolle as evidence that "Mammy" looks like real black people.

Guess what? I know someone who looks just like Scooby Doo. Condaleeza Rice looks like the Chucky doll (http://store.yahoo.com/cmdstore/chmomase2fim.html). That doesn't change the fact that these are fictional depictions.

Yes, black women were called Mammy back in the day when they were servants. They fulfilled Mammy's role as Beloved Maid for White Folks. Some even happened to fit some of the stereotype. Who has said otherwise? You keep giving history lessons where none are warranted. No one is in denial. In fact, if anyone is in denial it is you. You are denial of the fact that Mammy imagery was deliberately designed as a way to put down blacks. You think it was a honest protrayal of black women.

And I say if you think this (http://www.ferris.edu/news/jimcrow/mammies/more/120.htm) is a honest representation, then this is a matter of opinion that we will never agree upon. So it is best if we let the argument die.

Mr.Niceguy
10-13-2004, 11:57 PM
You with the face , I got a big problem with you speading ignorance. Ruby , was convinced by your revisionist cite that Mammy types didn't exist. It has been repeated that Mammy was just conjured up , pulled out of thin air if you will, by white people. It is a lie. Mammy was based on real people who really cooked and cleaned and raised the white kids. You have denied, or provided cites that deny, the very existence of such people. Not only do you disrespect them and their lives by the denial of their very existence, but you are offended by the symbol of their existence that survives to this day. Mammy represents real people, get it ? They lived and loved and suffered. You are offended by a symbol that very accurately depicts their lives and existence. You are by default offended by them. They did nothing to you.

Mr.Niceguy
10-14-2004, 12:24 AM
Ruby ,
If you get the chance visit here:

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/mesnbibsubjindex1.html

This is an archive of a federal project that interviewed hundreds of former slaves in 1936 - 1938. There are also hundreds of photographs. You will find Mammy there in many, many of photos. Have a look with with your own eyes and read some of the stories before you swallow that cock and bull You with the face directed you to.

John Mace
10-14-2004, 12:29 AM
The contention that house servants were not happy is based purely on modern ideas of happiness. Even though Charity herself speaks unmistakably well of how happy she was as a house servant, modern historians ignore this in favor of their own belief that Charity just couldn't have been happy, after all who could be happy like that. This is a real person. She really lived and loved and spoke well of her life as a "mammy" type house servant. Is it possible that real life people like Charity had something to do with the perception of the happy "mammy" or do you still insist this is all a figment of them mean ol' white folks imagination ?

What exactly is your point? Do you think that the mammy types in the 1800s were happy DIePITE their situation or BECAUSE OF their situation? If it's the former, then so f***ing what? If it's the latter, then why do you think that is? The human spirit is very resiliant. That's the only conclusions I would draw.

John Mace
10-14-2004, 12:30 AM
DIePITE

DESPITE

how did that escape preview....

Mr.Niceguy
10-14-2004, 12:43 AM
What exactly is your point? Do you think that the mammy types in the 1800s were happy DIePITE their situation or BECAUSE OF their situation? If it's the former, then so f***ing what? If it's the latter, then why do you think that is? The human spirit is very resiliant. That's the only conclusions I would draw.

Some seem to have been happy despite the situation others were happy because of the situation and others weren't happy at all.

Some were happy despite cruel masters and poor living conditions.

Some were happy because of kind masters and good conditions.

Some weren't happy at all with anything.

Some expressed that they were happier as "Mammy". After slavery the south was in shambles and the living conditions were very poor for most everyone.

It is all about perspective. Just because we know better now doesn't mean that Mammy wasn't happy then. She didn't know better times. I think some would be delighted to go back in time and enlighten Mammy so she could lead a miserable existence with her new found knowledge. If one hundred years from now humans reach Utopia I really hope they don't look back on me with pity or offense because I was so "unenlightened". Don't be offended by my existence or any reminder of it. Just be content to know that I was happy in my existence. Anything else would be disrespectful of my meager life time. It aint much but it's all we get.

Most of all I resent the implication that Mammy was a product of white peoples imagination. That is just a lie. She was real. Mammy should be acknowledged. It is disrespectful to sat that she was just invented.

John Mace
10-14-2004, 12:48 AM
Niceguy: I hope you enjoy your short and unremarkable tenure as a guest of this MB.

Mr.Niceguy
10-14-2004, 12:53 AM
Niceguy: I hope you enjoy your short and unremarkable tenure as a guest of this MB.

thanks.
;)

pizzabrat
10-14-2004, 12:40 PM
Hey, Rubystreak, are you reading this? You think those people Mr.Niceguy quoted were "reclaiming the term 'nigger'" (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=274769&page=2&pp=50)?


Anyway, Mr.Niceguy, try to think a teensy bit harder about those quotes you just posted. Read up on that slave interview project a bit more. When was it conducted, and who were they talking to? Were they talking to the air, in a stream-of-consiousness, and just happened to have been eavesdropped on by a recording studio? Read (or better yet, listen. The transcriber who decided to write everything the ex-slaves said foh'inettiklee was an idiot) the interviews again, and notice how oddly forced their praise of slavery was. Just mull over the context of the entire project a bit more, then see if you still think its wise to take those interviews at face value.

Mr.Niceguy
10-14-2004, 01:27 PM
Hey, Rubystreak, are you reading this? You think those people Mr.Niceguy quoted were "reclaiming the term 'nigger'" (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=274769&page=2&pp=50)?


Anyway, Mr.Niceguy, try to think a teensy bit harder about those quotes you just posted. Read up on that slave interview project a bit more. When was it conducted, and who were they talking to? Were they talking to the air, in a stream-of-consiousness, and just happened to have been eavesdropped on by a recording studio? Read (or better yet, listen. The transcriber who decided to write everything the ex-slaves said foh'inettiklee was an idiot) the interviews again, and notice how oddly forced their praise of slavery was. Just mull over the context of the entire project a bit more, then see if you still think its wise to take those interviews at face value.

Many of the people interviewed had nothing good to say about their masters. Some described them as cruel. There are desriptions of horrible attrocities perpetrated on other human beings. People beaten, limbs cut off, rapes, children allowed to starve.

So, just which interviews do you suggest I don't take at face value ? Do we take the horror stories at face value and discount those who speak of happy moments ?

At any rate, the point of all this is that Mammy was based on real people. It was said here many times that she was just an imagined object of white people. Whether the stories can be taken at face value is not the point in this debate. It is actually the photos of very Mammy like characters that prove the point.

Mr.Niceguy
10-14-2004, 02:55 PM
Hey, Rubystreak, are you reading this? You think those people Mr.Niceguy quoted were "reclaiming the term 'nigger'" (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=274769&page=2&pp=50)?


Anyway, Mr.Niceguy, try to think a teensy bit harder about those quotes you just posted. Read up on that slave interview project a bit more. When was it conducted, and who were they talking to? Were they talking to the air, in a stream-of-consiousness, and just happened to have been eavesdropped on by a recording studio? Read (or better yet, listen. The transcriber who decided to write everything the ex-slaves said foh'inettiklee was an idiot) the interviews again, and notice how oddly forced their praise of slavery was. Just mull over the context of the entire project a bit more, then see if you still think its wise to take those interviews at face value.

Pizzabrat ,

I took your advice and did some more checking on the Federal Writers project from 1936 to 1938. These studies and their on line contnent are regerded as definitive and exemplary. They are very thourough and well documented. Can you elaborate on any reason to discount anything contained in the cite ?

Here is a cite dealing with the evaluation of online information. The Federal Writers Project archives are the hishest rated site. They are rated exemplary:

This site features approximately 2,900 life histories, both in transcribed and image form, collected from 1936-1940. The documents represent the work of more than 300 writers from the Federal Writers' Project of the U.S. Work Projects Administration. The histories appear as drafts and revisions, in various formats, from narrative to dialogue, report to case history. Topics include the informant's family, education, income, occupation, political views, religion and mores, medical needs, and diet, as well as observations on society and culture. Interviewers often substituted pseudonyms for names of individuals and places.

http://historymatters.gmu.edu/mse/oral/online.html

pizzabrat
10-14-2004, 03:32 PM
Pizzabrat ,

I took your advice and did some more checking on the Federal Writers project from 1936 to 1938. These studies and their on line contnent are regerded as definitive and exemplary. They are very thourough and well documented. Can you elaborate on any reason to discount anything contained in the cite ?

Here is a cite dealing with the evaluation of online information. The Federal Writers Project archives are the hishest rated site. They are rated exemplary:



http://historymatters.gmu.edu/mse/oral/online.html

I wasn't doubting the esteem of the project itself, I was just asking you to consider the context. You provided a quote from an ex-slave - a person actually born into slavery, a life where she was forced by threat of violence and death to serve and revere whites, and like it, from birth until about thirty - who lives in Mobile, Alabama, an ex-slave state, and a state where she can still be arrested for sitting, eating, or peeing where white people sit eat or pee for about the next twenty years, and then make no attempt the question why she might be telling her white interviewer that she enjoyed serving whites other than that those were her genuine feelings. And maybe those were her genuine thoughts, but basic critical thinking skills and a high school grasp of US history should tell you not to jump to that conclusion right away.

Mr.Niceguy
10-14-2004, 03:49 PM
I wasn't doubting the esteem of the project itself, I was just asking you to consider the context. You provided a quote from an ex-slave - a person actually born into slavery, a life where she was forced by threat of violence and death to serve and revere whites, and like it, from birth until about thirty - who lives in Mobile, Alabama, an ex-slave state, and a state where she can still be arrested for sitting, eating, or peeing where white people sit eat or pee for about the next twenty years, and then make no attempt the question why she might be telling her white interviewer that she enjoyed serving whites other than that those were her genuine feelings. And maybe those were her genuine thoughts, but basic critical thinking skills and a high school grasp of US history should tell you not to jump to that conclusion right away.

Again, I say that many of the people interviewed expressed great contempt for their white counter parts. Critical thinking skills ? Sure, those are the skills that help me understand that out of all these hundreds of interviews there is at least a shred of credibility to the hundreds of people who said they had good feelings towards their white owners. Consider the interviews where it was stated that one white master was cruel but another was a good man and in the same breath uttering that one particular white person was mean while expressing that she had great love for another. Critical thinking indeed. While some of these people may have veiled their true feelings, critical thinking reveals that others were simply telling the truth. What about the story quoted where after emancipation the white plantation master gave the newly freed blacks all of the beginings of a farm ? Gave them hogs, chickens, seed corn, cotton seed etc. Do you really think this person would be veiling her true feelings about what surely must have been seen as an extrodinary deed for her family ? Perspective. It is all in perspective. The entire spectrum of human emotion is displayed in these interviews and choose to discount only one: happiness. I am sure you embrace the sadness and contempt, but the thought of anyone that may have experienced even a resemblence of happiness escapes you. Try a little critical thinking of your own.

pizzabrat
10-14-2004, 05:06 PM
Okay, now you're just talking past me, as I don't see what your last post has to do with anything.

But why should a dim-witted woman who has decided to dedicate her life to people who don't even respect her be celebrated on mass-produced food products. That's not a warm, reassuring image - that's a sad, depressing image. Nobody wants that on their pancake syrup.

Mr.Niceguy
10-14-2004, 05:22 PM
Okay, now you're just talking past me, as I don't see what your last post has to do with anything.

But why should a dim-witted woman who has decided to dedicate her life to people who don't even respect her be celebrated on mass-produced food products. That's not a warm, reassuring image - that's a sad, depressing image. Nobody wants that on their pancake syrup.

My last post addresses your implication that the interviews can't be taken at face value. Your suggestion that critical thinking should discount any claim of positive feelings expressed when in reality critical thinking results in the conclusion that the feelings expressed can not and should not be discounted.

Aside from that, Mammy is a caricature based on real people. I am refuting the claims that she was just a fake caricature of what white people thought a black servant should look like and how they should act and think. The caricature of Mammy is an accurate depiction of what history shows was the normal dress, duty and attitude of the real people that mammy was modeled after. Mammy was not imagined. She was real. That is all I am getting at. She is as real as "soccer moms" and "Joe six pack". These are all caricatures of real segments of people.

Odesio
10-14-2004, 05:25 PM
I don't find it very offensive because such images were from a bygone era by the time I was born. I see those images from time to time in antique stores and I can understand why they'd be offensive. My usual thought is "Jesus Christ, I can't believe they could get away with this kind of stuff." As a child it never occured to me that Aunt Jermima or other such images were negative. As an adult I know a bit different though I'm still not offended by Uncle Ben.

Marc

Mr.Niceguy
10-14-2004, 05:29 PM
Okay, now you're just talking past me, as I don't see what your last post has to do with anything.

But why should a dim-witted woman who has decided to dedicate her life to people who don't even respect her be celebrated on mass-produced food products. That's not a warm, reassuring image - that's a sad, depressing image. Nobody wants that on their pancake syrup.

Also, some in this very thread have stated that Mammys image is not sad and depressing. Some associate Mammy with a good cook. That is the whole idea to begin with. Do you seriously believe that any company would choose a marketing tool that was know to be sad and depressing ? And what can you tell me about any lack of respect for Mammy ? The reality is that the Mammy types in slave days were generally the most respected people on the plantation. In one of the interviews the Mammy speaks of how much she loved her white folks and how much they trusted her, giving her charge of all the keys to the home. That sound like someone with no respect to you ?

pizzabrat
10-14-2004, 06:07 PM
Also, some in this very thread have stated that Mammys image is not sad and depressing. Some associate Mammy with a good cook. That is the whole idea to begin with. Do you seriously believe that any company would choose a marketing tool that was know to be sad and depressing ? And what can you tell me about any lack of respect for Mammy ? The reality is that the Mammy types in slave days were generally the most respected people on the plantation. In one of the interviews the Mammy speaks of how much she loved her white folks and how much they trusted her, giving her charge of all the keys to the home. That sound like someone with no respect to you ?

Sorry, I meant sad and depressing to only a specific chunk of the population. It's warm and reassuring to whites who like to think that these people exist soley to please them, and those are the only people the Aunt Jemima marketers had in mind when they used the old-fashioned logo. Now companies know that their customer base isn't that limited, so a servile black woman dedicates her life to her white masters doesn't make an attractive mascot anymore.

Mr.Niceguy
10-14-2004, 06:21 PM
Sorry, I meant sad and depressing to only a specific chunk of the population. It's warm and reassuring to whites who like to think that these people exist soley to please them, and those are the only people the Aunt Jemima marketers had in mind when they used the old-fashioned logo. Now companies know that their customer base isn't that limited, so a servile black woman dedicates her life to her white masters doesn't make an attractive mascot anymore.

I would agree. Fewer people see Mammy as a positive figure now. I am sure there are lots of factors that contribute to this. I wonder when the National Association of Lumber Jacks will start slandering Paul Bunyan. "Hey there are small guys that make good lumber jacks too !! And we don't use axes anymore either !! Paul Bunyan is just a tool used by those damn tree huggers to keep us lumberjacks down and paint an unfair portrait of us !! I want Paul Bunyan off my can of Baked Beans now !!"

monstro
10-14-2004, 07:41 PM
These studies and their on line contnent are regerded as definitive and exemplary. They are very thourough and well documented. Can you elaborate on any reason to discount anything contained in the cite ?

We don't need a cite to be suspicious.

For what it's worth, I do not believe that every slave was unhappy and every slaveowner was cruel. I do not believe every slave welcomed anticipation (some regularly thwarted rebellion). I believe some people actually had it much better as slaves than they did as free people.

However, I view those slave narratives with a critical eye. For one thing, most of the interviewees were children when they were enslaved. Child slaves had it much better, on average, than adults. So their memories would tend to be slightly more favorable than those of an older person.

Secondly, as pizzabrat astutely noted, the interviewees were being interviewed by whites. In the Deep South. During Jim Crow. Now, I'm sure those white interviewers were do-gooder types, but imagine how candid you'd be around people who you know have more power than you, and you're talking to them about the institution that, as far as you're concerned, these people ran and operated. People who have the power to rally the racist government and extra-government entities (i.e., KKK) in case those "uppity" negroes start complaining. How loose would your tongue be?

In Jim Crow South, black people enjoyed knowing that whites could kill them with virtual impunity. I'll say it again: How candid would you be in a situation like that?

Finally, all of the ex-slaves were mired in poverty. These interviews were conducted during the Depression, in some of the poorest parts of the country. I learned in a history course I took that the interviewees were given compensation for their time in the form of clothing and food. We're talking about hungry people with absolutely no political or social power who were offered tangible rewards by representatives of the Oppressor. The very act of charity could affect a person's "recollection", especially if this person thought there could be more rewards if he told the interviewer what he believed they wanted to hear.

It's perfectly valid to think about these factors when reading those slave narratives.

It is all about perspective. Just because we know better now doesn't mean that Mammy wasn't happy then. She didn't know better times. I think some would be delighted to go back in time and enlighten Mammy so she could lead a miserable existence with her new found knowledge. If one hundred years from now humans reach Utopia I really hope they don't look back on me with pity or offense because I was so "unenlightened". Don't be offended by my existence or any reminder of it. Just be content to know that I was happy in my existence. Anything else would be disrespectful of my meager life time. It aint much but it's all we get.

I'd like for you to get some perspective. It would be one thing if mammies during slavery had a choice in the matter. It's not like Massa went up to slaves and gave them a questionarre on the kinds of jobs they'd like to have. Mammy was Mammy because Massa made her one. And if Mammy wanted to stay out of the hot fields or away from the auctioneer, she had to don that smile, shuck that jive, boil dem potatoes, don that smile, haul that water, rip off the curtains for Missy's dress, empty dem slop-buckets, don that smile, make dem biscuits, fry up that lard, don that smile, laugh at Massa's jokes, comfort the crying baby, help Missy get the meal out on the table, don that smile, yell at the field negroes while slipping them some corn bread through the window, empty the slop buckets, wash the house linen, help Old Massa up the stairs while he rambles on about the nigras, don that smile....

It's called survival, not love.

I like how you give a singular voice to hundreds of thousands of women. There is no "Mammy". Just like there isn't a Uncle Tom, Sambo or a Jezebel, or Buck.

You say for yourself that not all Mammies were miserable and unhappy about their lives. Fine. But think how you'd feel if you were Mammy's child. Not the white kids she spent most of her time raising. But her child. The child that watched snot-nosed white kids call your proud mother "Auntie" because she was deemed unworthy for the proper title. The child who could see the vast gulf between Mama and Mammy. The child who would watch your mother heap praises upon her white kids, but who was only strict and harsh with you, the one who could be sold from her in a hot minute. Why would anyone have a problem with people having a problem with this?

Aside from that, Mammy is a caricature based on real people.

Aren't all caricatures based on real people? So your point would be...

The first thing that pops into my head when I see a swastika is : "Gee, wonder who is using the swastika as a symbol and I wonder what they are about". I am not a prejudice person. I try to make concrete judgements before jumping to conclusions based on a symbol.

So a person is automatically prejudiced if they interpret a symbol before doing an interview of the person displaying it? Am I prejudiced if I choose to stay away from a place displaying a noose and a Confederate flag? What about if I go to a foreign country and I see someone angrily burning the American Flag. Should I go up to said person and ask who their anger is directed towards?

you with the face
10-14-2004, 07:47 PM
Mr. Niceguy
Aside from that, Mammy is a caricature based on real people.

She's a caricature of black women, as I've said repeatedly.

I am refuting the claims that she was just a fake caricature of what white people thought a black servant should look like and how they should act and think.

What is a "fake" caricature? I've already told you that the common depictions of Mammy were purposefully stylized to exaggerate and "uglify" blacks, just like most of the black protrayals in the pre-Jim Crow era. It is a rare thing to see a drawing from those days that showed blacks as dignified, attractive, and human. Most depictions are rather cartoonish. I've provided plenty of examples to show you, but you seem to gloss over them in your insistence to prove that "Mammy" is not offensive.

The caricature of Mammy is an accurate depiction of what history shows was the normal dress, duty and attitude of the real people that mammy was modeled after.

You would like to believe that, wouldn't you?

For every one stereotypical "Mammy" you can find, there were plenty of other black women who weren't fat, assexual, grinning from ear to ear, and worshipful of whites, with a red hankerchief on her head. Black women--black people--were just as diverse as any other group. Some might have been happy with their oppression because that was all they knew. That doesn't make that oppression any less wrong. You seem to think it does.

The only images of black folks that were popularized in the pre-Jim Crow were those showing happy servitude. For some mystifying reason, the presentation of black women that whites seemed to most prefer was that of a self-deprecating clown who only existed to serve them.

The Mammy stereotype and caricature is offensive to many people because it is a symbol of black subjugation. It is not any more complex than that. We are not grappling with astrophysics here!

you with the face
10-14-2004, 07:55 PM
And Mr. Niceguy, please respond to this hypothetical:

Let's say there's a company. The company grows and sells cotton. The company goes by the name "Buck John". Its logo is of a grinning slave. Looks sort of like this (http://www.ferris.edu/news/jimcrow/coon/more/boots.htm) .

Would you find it unreasonable to find this logo offensive?

Mr.Niceguy
10-14-2004, 08:55 PM
You said this:

Mammy, on the other hand, is not a real person. She is a figment of racist ideology.

That is not true. Again and again I have posted photographs and interviews that demonstate and depict "Mammy". Mammy is what the head house woman was traditionally called. She is not a figment of racist ideology. She is a caricature of what black female house servants dressed, looked and acted like. Racist ideology certainly exist but mammy is not part of it. She is a reflection of real people who lived in the past.

Then you posted to a revisionist cite that resulted in this :

After reading the homepage (http://www.ferris.edu/news/jimcrow/mammies/homepage.htm) on the site you with the face previously linked to, I learned that what I understood to be a Mammy really never existed other than in the imagination of the white creators of it..

Your rhetoric and revisionist cite actually convinced someone that Mammy types didn't even exist. The spreading of ignorance is not a good thing.

You say it again:

For cryin' out loud, Mammy is not a real person. She couldn't help it? Ha! The people who invented her certainly could.

After all the cites, photos, real live interviews with real life people who talk about Mammy, you still deny her existence. That is pretty thick.

Then you flip (or flop):

Yes, black women were called Mammy back in the day when they were servants. They fulfilled Mammy's role as Beloved Maid for White Folks. Some even happened to fit some of the stereotype. Who has said otherwise? You keep giving history lessons where none are warranted.

So which is it ? Were they a figment of imagination or were there real life people after whom she was modeled ?

For every one stereotypical "Mammy" you can find, there were plenty of other black women who weren't fat, assexual, grinning from ear to ear, and worshipful of whites, with a red hankerchief on her head. Black women--black people--were just as diverse as any other group. Some might have been happy with their oppression because that was all they knew. That doesn't make that oppression any less wrong. You seem to think it does.

The women who worked in the house and the kitchen all wore similar things. Yes those other black women didn't walk around in an apron a doo rag but the Mammy types did. Practically all of them that I can find photos of. It is also a fact that the house servants ate much better than the feild hands so it stands to reason that Mammy was more likely to have a few extra pounds. And I have never attempted to justify the oppression of anyone. You have expressed your disdain with the fact that mammy was depicted with a smile. I only try to point out to you that despite oppression, beleive it or not, lots of these people were happy with their lot in life. It is all written in black and white. If I could go back in time and make them sad for you i would but I can't. They smiled. I don't know why they smiled but they did.

The only images of black folks that were popularized in the pre-Jim Crow were those showing happy servitude. For some mystifying reason, the presentation of black women that whites seemed to most prefer was that of a self-deprecating clown who only existed to serve them.

People who knew and remembered their Mammy I am sure did not think of her as anything but the person who loved and cared and fed them. The woman who delivered their children and nursed them. I am sure they did not look upon her like you do. It disturbs me that you have such a low opinion of these women who did so much for so many no matter the circumstances under which they were done.

The Mammy stereotype and caricature is offensive to many people because it is a symbol of black subjugation. It is not any more complex than that. We are not grappling with astrophysics here!

Maybe that's what it is to you. To me Mammy is a beloved portrait of the best of human and feminine qualities.

Monstro says,
Secondly, as pizzabrat astutely noted, the interviewees were being interviewed by whites. In the Deep South. During Jim Crow. Now, I'm sure those white interviewers were do-gooder types, but imagine how candid you'd be around people who you know have more power than you, and you're talking to them about the institution that, as far as you're concerned, these people ran and operated. People who have the power to rally the racist government and extra-government entities (i.e., KKK) in case those "uppity" negroes start complaining. How loose would your tongue be?

First of all do you have any information that any or all or some of the interviewers were white ? Secondly, the interviewers allowed the use of psuedonyms to avoid backlash. Finally, if you actually take the time to read the damn interviews you will without a doubt find that they are very, very candid documents. When in the same interview an ex slave says "Master John was cruel and beat his niggers and he was never kind to us and his mistress was a wicked woman that I can think of nothing kind to say about but when we was sold to Master Jim he was a kind man and treated us all like his children, we were fed and clothed and given good care and if we were sick the doctor was summoned and medicine bought. Yes sir I did love Master Jim. And his mistress was a wonderful woman....." Where do you get that conclusion from ? Obviously you can not say that a person saying this was not being truthful or was afraid to criticize white people. Read the stuff man.

All I am saying is that Mammy was real. She was a real and nearly omnipresent part of pre and post civil war southerrn US. She can not be dismissed as a figment of imagination. She was a manifestation of real people.

Mr.Niceguy
10-14-2004, 09:00 PM
And Mr. Niceguy, please respond to this hypothetical:

Let's say there's a company. The company grows and sells cotton. The company goes by the name "Buck John". Its logo is of a grinning slave. Looks sort of like this (http://www.ferris.edu/news/jimcrow/coon/more/boots.htm) .

Would you find it unreasonable to find this logo offensive?

The link goes to a shoe company advertisement that shows a black feild hand looking at a pair of shoes and smiling. It is labeled as racist. No. I don't get it. Are people not allowed to draw caricatures of black people ? Is there something about black people and shoes ? What about that ad is racist ? What about that ad says "people A are better than people B" Expain please.

Mr.Niceguy
10-14-2004, 11:41 PM
Secondly, as pizzabrat astutely noted, the interviewees were being interviewed by whites.

I did some more checking and thought you might like to know that the Federal Writers Project did have both white and black interviewers. Pizzabrat's observation was not so astute. Just making an uniformed assumption.

Distinguished African-American writers served literary apprenticeships on the Federal Writers' Project, including Ralph Ellison, Margaret Walker, Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright.

These are just some of the more notable names on the FWP. There were many more black participants.

dropzone
10-14-2004, 11:50 PM
I'm ba-a-a-a-ck!Just curious, DZ- what inspired the OP?

Did you encounter a recent-vintage "mammy" figure or did you just come across some artefact of a less enlightened era (not that we've made grat leaps and bounds, but we progress, we progress), and decided to get indignant (on someone else's behalf)?Actually, I was looking at a sack of flour featuring Ms Jemima's current smiling countenance and remarked to myself that she looked more like an office manager than a cook. It was self-rising flour and I suppose office managers appreciate conveniences like that but I tend to not associate convenience with good food.

Now, on to business. Mr Niceguy, didn't this one thread allow you a large enough canvas on which you could paint, that you had to start a whole 'nother thread? (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=280970) Refering to John Mace's earlier comment, my guess is that starting a second thread when the discussion is still going in the first is likely to cause you MORE trouble, but I am not a moderator.

What have we determined? We have seen that people of color are often offended by the Mammy Stereotype, but we have also seen that such people did exist. We know from the records that, while many, MANY slaves were abused beyond "simply" being denied their freedom and being forced to work, some, especially house servants, had fond memories of those days when they were interviewed many years later. Old people often view their youths with rose-colored glasses but we must also recall that, whether you were working for yourself or your owner, while housework back then was tough work, farming was tougher. A truly miserable existence and there was little difference, beyond the whole slavery, lynchings, and beatings thing, between the life of a slave and the life of a white sharecropper. Both were short and brutal but, obviously, slaves had it worse. However, I would be interested in any information about how common murders of slaves by their master were. I mean, a mediocre field hand cost as much as a pretty good new car does today and I can't imagine many people will wreck their Toyota Altimas on purpose.

The Mammy costume, as seen in many photos, was how slave women dressed. The do-rag protected her from the sun and soaked up her sweat, not because her "hair (was) so nappy it had to be covered," as you with the face states. Her weight, of course, was a result of increased access to food. And yes, especially in her earliest incarnations she was an offensive caricature, all lips and bugged eyes and pitch black skin, but the clothes and weight were reasonably accurate. As for the "It's good that I'm a slave. Real good!" smile, yeah, it was a "job requirement." Unfortunate, but true and with real consequences if the requirement was not met.

Next, a discussion of Uncle Tom's Cabin (http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/gutbook/lookup?num=203) as well as, for you folks outside the US because the rest of us have to buy it because the copyright hasn't expired here like it has in Australia, thank you Mr Eisner, (Do I have two clicks? Yep.)Gone With the Wind. (http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks02/0200161.txt) Read these with an eye to the portrayals of Uncle Tom and Mammy. Was your preconception of these characters accurate?

Mr.Niceguy
10-14-2004, 11:53 PM
Fortunately, some black interviewers were involved in obtaining the narratives, and it is therefore possible to assess the influence of race by comparing the responses of those interviewed by whites with those of people interviewed by blacks. For example, in a systematic analysis of the Slave Narrative Collection and similar interviews obtained earlier by Fisk University interviewers, Paul D. Escott found that 72 percent of the ex-slaves interviewed by whites rated the quality of their food as good, while only 46 percent of those interviewed by blacks did. Similarly, 26 percent of those responding to white interviewers expressed unfavorable attitudes toward their former masters compared to 39 percent of those who responded to black interviewers.

Just for reference.

dropzone
10-14-2004, 11:53 PM
What about that ad is racist ?(taking Mr.Niceguy aside)

Buddy, I know you really aren't that stupid. You should probably have skipped making that reply.

(wandering off muttering to myself)

Mr.Niceguy
10-14-2004, 11:59 PM
Sorry about the other thread dropzone , thought I was kind of hi jacking yours. Doesn't seem to be going anywhere though.

Help me out with the racist shoe ad. All I see is a black man with a straw hat and a shoe. Now if ol' masser was over him with a shoe, it would be but don't black people show up in shoe ads today ?

Mr.Niceguy
10-15-2004, 12:03 AM
Taking a look at some of the other caricatures on You with the face's cite, I see some very racist, out of porportion caricatures. Wonder why one of those wasn't posted. Some of them are very obvious but the shoe ad doesn't come across that way for me.

TeaElle
10-15-2004, 12:48 AM
That is not true. Again and again I have posted photographs and interviews that demonstate and depict "Mammy".
That is patently untrue. You have posted links to photos and interviews that demonstrate women whose dignity, labor and very identities were stolen from them and yet they continued on to do the best that they could with their lives despite the harsh and inhumane conditions they faced from the days of their births until the moments in which they drew their last breaths.

You keep attempting to equate these women with a despicable, racist stereotype built upon these women's service and emphasizing the worst aspects of their bedraggled appearances and the proud features of their race. These women are not anything more or less than human beings who had every right to hold their heads up and claim their names. They were not "mammy," that's a label that has been imposed on them by the ignorant and dehumanizing.

They were no more "mammy" than my dog is Goofy from the Mickey Mouse cartoons.

Mr.Niceguy
10-15-2004, 01:09 AM
That is patently untrue. You have posted links to photos and interviews that demonstrate women whose dignity, labor and very identities were stolen from them and yet they continued on to do the best that they could with their lives despite the harsh and inhumane conditions they faced from the days of their births until the moments in which they drew their last breaths.

You keep attempting to equate these women with a despicable, racist stereotype built upon these women's service and emphasizing the worst aspects of their bedraggled appearances and the proud features of their race. These women are not anything more or less than human beings who had every right to hold their heads up and claim their names. They were not "mammy," that's a label that has been imposed on them by the ignorant and dehumanizing.

They were no more "mammy" than my dog is Goofy from the Mickey Mouse cartoons.

The people you refer to have over and over again refered to the head house woman of the plantation as "Mammy". Years after slavery. It may have been wrong and degrading but it was true. It may have been imposed by others, but it was true. It happened. It was sometimes a sorry site but it happened. Mammies existed in great numbers. They had names, real names, just like your moms name probably isn't mom. I can not agree with you more that these women deserved to hold their heads up and be proud of their service. That is my entire purpose of this argument. There are those who have argued that these women did not even exist. There are those who say that the image of a house "mammy" is pure fiction. It is not. As I have said before, when I think of "mammy" I think of all that is good and maternal and feminine. I think of the strength of the human spirit that these women could still be kind and loving to those who have kept her freedom. I think of the incredible faith in God that they possessed. I apologize for anything I have said that in anyway has marginalized these women. I have nothing but respect for the people upon whose back this nation was built and whose sacrifices and servitude went unrewarded. I did not come here to degrade but to defend the history of the women whom Mammy represents. I have said enough in this debate. My apologies.

you with the face
10-15-2004, 07:02 AM
dropzone
The Mammy costume, as seen in many photos, was how slave women dressed. The do-rag protected her from the sun and soaked up her sweat, not because her "hair (was) so nappy it had to be covered," as you with the face states.

Mammy was a house servant. How much sun was she planning on getting inside the kitchen? I suspect you are trying to put a more positive spin on Mammy's headcover than is warranted by fact. There is plenty of evidence that the ruling class of the day absolutely despied the sight of black folk's hair. Looking at black kinky afro puffs gave the mistresses vapors, I do declare!

Her weight, of course, was a result of increased access to food. And yes, especially in her earliest incarnations she was an offensive caricature, all lips and bugged eyes and pitch black skin, but the clothes and weight were reasonably accurate.

Have we all agreed that "Mammy" is a stereotype, not a real person? We have no reason to believe that most house servants looked like this stereotype. Mulatto slaves, for example, were more likely to be embraced as servants than dark-skinned slaves were. How many racially mixed "Mammy" icons are there? Why is it that we always see the tar-baby drawings of black folks with the exaggerated features, but nothing else? The message in these caricature-like depictions is that blacks are the polar opposite of whites. Whites are depicted as dignified humans who experience a wide realm of emotions and thoughts. Blacks are depicted as cartoon characters, who only smile, smile, smile. "Lawdy mercy, I's happy t'be a slave, yessuh Massah!"

As for the "It's good that I'm a slave. Real good!" smile, yeah, it was a "job requirement." Unfortunate, but true and with real consequences if the requirement was not met.

Right. Lots of us are reminded of those consequences when we see that smile. It is not something most people want to think about as they eat their pancakes, you know what I'm sayin'?

dropzone
10-15-2004, 11:21 AM
(rubbing my forehead in frustration but admiring the fire in this thread's participants)

TeaElle and you with the face, yes, stereotypes, good or bad, blind us to the actual people we are stereotyping, but a stereotype is, at first, generally based on an actuality. If it happens often enough and enough people see it that general assumptions develop then that actuality becomes a stereotype and people begin to assume that all people who match the stereotype in one or two particulars will match it in its entirety. That is the good ol' human "pattern matching where there isn't always a pattern" problem (see any "ghost voices" website for another example).

The original Mammy stereotype was based on real people. By the time it made it into popular entertainment white people who had never seen a black person accepted it as an actuality and all one had to do to trigger the "That's Mammy!" response was to show a large black woman (or, for that matter, a white man in blackface :( ) in that outfit. Cultural shorthand and most of us agree that it has negative conotations but my original point was that not all of those connotations are negative. As Mr.Niceguy said, "when I think of 'mammy' I think of all that is good and maternal and feminine. I think of the strength of the human spirit that these women could still be kind and loving to those who have kept her freedom. I think of the incredible faith in God that they possessed." In addition, and in my ultimately shallow manner, I think of someone who can cook collards so they are good, not like how they are served at my wife's favorite restaurant.

Mr.Niceguy and I were raised aware of America's dark history. I cannot speak for him but I am ashamed of it. But for me, in my subconscious, Mammy has lost the negatives of which you speak. She is colorblind. She is not subservient. She does not work for some stereotypical Massa but for herself. And she will "knock me upside the head" if I were to suggest otherwise. Perhaps in my head she has morphed into Big Mama in a do-rag*, but Big Mama is another stereotype and, as you noted, though it is a positive one we should avoid stereotyping people. Amen.


* - A practical piece of headgear (I've been known to wear one, too, but backwards, pirate style :) ) that, indoors, will keep crap out of your hair when you are cleaning and your hair out of the soup when you are cooking, though I am aware of the stereotypical Missy's aversion to hair. Anyway, female servants, white or black, free or slave, were usually expected to wear some form of hat.

dropzone
10-15-2004, 12:08 PM
Help me out with the racist shoe ad. All I see is a black man with a straw hat and a shoe. Now if ol' masser was over him with a shoe, it would be but don't black people show up in shoe ads today ?Why is it that we always see the tar-baby drawings of black folks with the exaggerated features, but nothing else?Okay, it looks like we need a quick lesson in the "humorous" caricatures of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Please note that I am only relating the attitudes of the time. I wish that were obvious but I have seen too many trainwrecks to assume that everybody will expect the best from people here.

"Otherness" was funny. From what I have found over the years there was little if any humor that was based on anything other than how funny people who did not match the WASP norm were. In order to speed the recognition of a person's otherness visual cues were provided, to whit:

Jewish man - Tall, skinny, hooked nose, and, most telling, spectacles, squinty eyes, and stooped shoulders from poring over accounting books. He is wearing tails because he thinks he's better than everybody else.

Irish man - Short and bowlegged (probably from rickets caused by malnutrtion during the Potato Famine), pug nose and peg teeth (from congenital syphillis), florid complexion and pugnacious attitude (from too much drink--a stereotype we still have). He wears a vest, coat (probably green), and a bowler hat tipped rakishly and carries a sheleighly.

Irish woman - Short, fat, and bowlegged. She is sweaty and her hair is coming undone. She wears short sleeves on her dress because, as a washerwoman, her arms are usually in soapy water up to the elbows.

Asian of any nationality, male or female - Short with enormous buck teeth and slits for eyes. Skin is a bright, jaundiced yellow. Wears loose "pajamas" and a conical straw hat. The only way you tell male from female is by the hair; men wear theirs in a long braid and women wear theirs loose but under the hat.

Italian man - Short, fat, round, red nose, and a big handlebar moustache. White shirt and colored vest. Usually works as an organ grinder with his monkey. Cartoons used this one well into the 50s.

And, finally, (Mr.Niceguy, please pay attention):

Black man - Pug nose, big pink lips and big white teeth (making for a BIG "watermelon grin" :rolleyes: ), eyes are bugged out making him look psychopathic, skin is shiny black, not brown, with white highlights. Clothes, usually overalls and a shirt, are ragged, feet are bare (which would be why that guy in the ad wants those shoes), and he is wearing a ragged straw hat.

Black woman - Morbidly obese, and otherwise same appearance as the male except not crazy looking. Clothing is a gingham dress, white apron, do-rag. You know, Mammy. :(

Black child - So black all you can see is her eyes and teeth. The hair is in pigtails but it and the skin blend together because they are simply drawn with a black pen or brush. Ragged dress and bare feet. Always playing without a care in the world.

There are others (see the Katzenjammer Kids (http://www.kingfeatures.com/features/comics/katzkids/about.htm) for the German stereotypes from 1897 that are STILL IN SYNDICATION! :eek: ) but you get the point. That fellow in the soap ad is a stereotypical black man from that period, just as Mammy is a stereotypical black woman from back then. Unlike the others, for some (many? MOST?) people Mammy has outgrown her stereotypical roots because her qualities were mostly admirable.

However, if you memorize there descriptions I provided and go back in time 100 years you can get a job as a cartoonist. :smack:

pizzabrat
10-15-2004, 05:02 PM
Unlike the others, for some (many? MOST?) people Mammy has outgrown her stereotypical roots because her qualities were mostly admirable.



Would you be able to smile so fondly upon the image of an obese, sexless, dimwitted white woman who pours her heart out for her adoptive black family and neglects her own?

pizzabrat
10-15-2004, 05:05 PM
As I have said before, when I think of "mammy" I think of all that is good and maternal and feminine.

So you'd consider marrying a "mammy"?

Mr.Niceguy
10-15-2004, 05:55 PM
So you'd consider marrying a "mammy"?

If I were considering a wife she would definitely make the short list. :D

dropzone
10-15-2004, 11:34 PM
Would you be able to smile so fondly upon the image of an obese, sexless, dimwitted white woman who pours her heart out for her adoptive black family and neglects her own?No, but since the Mammies you see the most of these days aren't dimwitted you are setting up a straw...um...woman. The Mammy of yore--long, long ago--may have been dimwitted but by the middle of the 20th century they were already evolving into Big Mamas. Look at Mammy in GWTW. She is the only person we meet whom Rhett Butler respects because she's the smart one! And the eponymous Beulah was not the dumb one on that show--Hattie McDaniel (both Mammy and Beulah) made a career, with the help of her trouble-making directors, out of forcing up the image of black women in films. Obese? Well, I can't very much hold THAT against anyone. :D Sexless? Brother, you get to a certain age.... But didn't somebody else describe how slave women were the sex toys of their owners? Hmmm, maybe getting that fat was the only thing that turned the old goat off. Finally, how do we know she's neglecting her own children? The Mammies of fairly modern (since 1935, conveniently missing 1934's Imitation of Life because it was too creepy for words) fiction are all older with grown children if they have any at all. They are neglecting no one.

Mammy is a fiction based, loosely, on real women. Thanks to pioneers like McDaniel the image of black women in film, radio, and TV the image of black women improved faster than that of men. At least give Mammy credit for being a positive, for the most part, image when the usual black people of popular entertainment were buffoons.

bizzwire
10-16-2004, 04:10 PM
Actually, I was looking at a sack of flour featuring Ms Jemima's current smiling countenance and remarked to myself that she looked more like an office manager than a cook. It was self-rising flour and I suppose office managers appreciate conveniences like that but I tend to not associate convenience with good food.

That's it??!! You noticed that Aunt Jemima products now use an African-American woman who looks like a middle manager and decided that we needed to resurrect discounted racist images to get torqued-off about?

Man, this is such a non-issue.

dropzone
10-16-2004, 11:06 PM
I don't want her resurected. As you can see, there are enough people she has offended to keep her dead and buried, though the Big Mama stereotype ain't all that far off. I just miss the old bird and feel she has been unjustly stigmatized.

And please, as I have mentioned before I am FAR too over-medicated to get "torqued off" by much of anything. :)

JanetMLS
09-03-2013, 08:43 PM
Since this thread was written in 2004, and it is now 2013, much has happened recently, and has influenced how I look at this topic.

Granted, I grew up in the era when it was required of us students to read "Gone with the Wind." I actually loved the book and the movie. However, this does not mean that I am suggesting that I endorse the Mammy stereotype.

America had slavery, and the stereotypes of nurturing older black women who were actually the nannies, cooks, etc., and these types of characters, endured in our culture. Recently, Paula Deen, a celebrity chef on the Food Network admitted to the use of the n word, which she had used 30 years previously, in private, to her husband after a black man had held a gun to her face in a bank robbery.

I grew up in California, which was an entirely different atmosphere than Georgia in the 50's and 60's. I knew not to use that offensive word, but I feel there are people that would like to rewrite history, and in this case, hold Paula Deen accountable for racism in America, especially towards black people.

In my opinion, the south was a different world than the west coast. Just as Paula grew up with a great grandfather that had been a plantation owner in the south, and had had slaves, my ancestors were from Washington and Oregon. I do not say that using the n word could ever be acceptable, but the west was not as racist as the south. It never was and never will be.

Still, when Al Jolson sang Mammy, with his blackface on, apparently he was very kind to black musicians and helped mainstream jazz into our society. Even if blackface is atrocious to black people today, which I can understand, it is a part of our actual history. There were many wonderful women, who dressed like Mammy and were beautiful souls, even if in actuality they were slaves. We may not endorse the treatment of these human beings as slaves, but it is just a matter of history.

You may read "The Diary of Anne Frank" and be horrified that Jewish people in Holocaust Germany were killed by the millions. And this is one of the largest, if not the very largest atrocities in history. We cannot rewrite history and take away the Holocaust, just as we cannot rewrite history and remove all traces of slavery from the past and racism towards black people, in the United States.

Just as Anne Frank told her poignant story, that makes us weep with the injustice of this beautiful young girl losing the hopes and dreams of her future, we also see what a talented and insiteful writer she was. Without her book we would not have had as much understanding of the dehumanization and terrorizing treatment of Jewish people during WWII.

Instead of rewriting or resenting history, we need to understand how these events could have happened and make sure that they never happen again.

I am sure, now that Paula Deen was truthful in a deposition that she had uttered the n word, and lost millions of dollars in endorsements as a result, as well as her Food Network show, she has a deeper understanding of the horrendous harm and hurt that this word evokes in black Americans today. And her poor choice in accepting and using this word, has forever changed her understanding of the deep-rooted stereotypes that exist towards black people.

We are all products of our environment. If our parents teach us tolerance and that we should not call other people harmful names, that is good, and this is all we know. I would imagine though, that in the 60's many white people in the south used this despicable name. This is unfortunate, but let's face it; Americans fought and killed one another in the Civil War, over this topic of the right to have slaves or the fact that slavery had to be abolished since it was evil.

I cannot say that I would have acted any different than Paula Deen had I been a product of her environment. She did not create slavery, racial injustice, stereotypes of Mammy or Aunt Jemima, plantations in the south, blackface, or any of these things that most black people most likely wish had not happened. But, just as a young girl named Anne Frank wrote a diary describing the terror imposed on Jewish people in WWII Germany, and was a shining jewel that will always exist in history, so too, with the writing of "Gone with the Wind," we will forever be reminded that some people had all their freedom stripped from them, and yet, somehow they remained loving and nurturing, in spite of this horrendous injustice.

Basically, as human beings, hopefully we strive to learn from any mistakes that we have made currently, or that our ancestors have made in the past. The more that all races learn to accept one another and respect one another, the better off we will be as Americans. But, good and bad, history traces our actions as Americans. Injustice of all sorts needs to be fought against. We can only strive to do better now and in the future.

aruvqan
09-04-2013, 01:25 AM
For most of us she's not any kind of figure, just a character out of one or two costume dramas like GWtW. I mean, how many white people nowadays were raised by black nurses? Today, rich people who need a nanny are more likely to hire an illegal from El Salvador.
I had a German nanny in Germany. Back in the US, I had *the* same German nanny that my grandmother brought back in 1923 to take care of my father and his 2 brothers. When they were grown up, she was my Grandmothers maid of all work and cook. As various cousins popped out, Marie went to take care of them - each of my grandparents 3 sons had Marie take care of their kids for 8-10 years per family [we are sort of spread in age, my Uncle Bill's kids came first, in the 50s and we were in the late 60s and my Uncle John's kids were 70s babies.] Then she went back and cared for my Grandmother until she died, then Marie lived with my parents [not as a maid because she was now in her 80s] until she died. She is buried in the family plot.

My roommate, grandaughter of Charles McNary (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_L._McNary) was raised by her Grandmother in the 50s and 60s and they did have a black driver, married to the black maid who helped raise my roommate - who called her Auntie and the gentleman Uncle. It was a term of respect given to the very cultured black men and women who in that particular social circle worked for white families. Frequently their families had been slaves then freedmen working for the same family for over a hundred years.
dropzone:
The picture of a stout dark-skinned (because that is an important part of "Mammy" icon) Black woman in an apron and head scarf does not make me think of MOTHER. It makes me think of SERVANT.
And my first thought is tignon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tignon) - hair covering. Women doing housework white or black [or yellow or brown just so the Chinese and Mexicans can get in on the discussion] back in the day covered their hair - cleaning was frequently a dusty cobwebby task, and if you did not take a full bath and wash your hair until the weekend, you did not want to get it dirty.
Mr. Niceguy
Hair so nappy it had to be covered..
See above - in louisiana the tignon was worn as a stumtuary law differencing between black/mulatto/octaroons and white women. Women back in the day covered their hair when cleaning or really any sort of housework. Women also tended to cover their heads when outside the house - a hangover from the middle ages and renaissance.
In fact, I find just the name "Aunt Jemima" to be offensive, as it harkens back to when higher ranking household slaves were called "aunt" or "uncle".

And I have a whole passel of nonrelatives that I grew up calling Aunt or Uncle that were never slaves or servants - it used to be a term of respect to call an older person that if they were very good family friends. Hell, ask our Indian board members about Aunti-ji and Uncle-ji ...

Ibn Warraq
09-05-2013, 01:09 AM
I don't want to wade into this too much but the "slaves" he's pointing to were interviewed over 70 years after the end of slavery, had with rare exceptions been slaves only as children and had their experiences colored by reconstruction.

I suspect that if you talked to 40 year old ex-slaves in 1870, there would have been different reactions.

Moreover, I'm not sure how typical the ones he quoted were.

Belowjob2.0
09-05-2013, 02:48 PM
It just needs updating.

From "I don't know nothing about birthin no babies" (http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/41/ec/f3/41ecf36992bc3e19459634725b44d71a.jpg) to "let me tell you how to live." (http://images.search.yahoo.com/images/view;_ylt=A2KJkIW23ihSkCUAhjSJzbkF;_ylu=X3oDMTFyN3BkMGEzBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDaW1nBG9pZAM2NGQ2ZGFmN2JhYzYy NTJhMjI2ZDZiZGUyNmY3ZDA2YwRncG9zAzQ3?back=http%3A%2F%2Fimages.search.yahoo.com%2Fsearch%2Fimages%3Fp %3Doprah%26fr%3Dmoz35%26fr2%3Dpiv-web%26ac%3D5%26tab%3Dorganic%26ri%3D47&w=450&h=675&imgurl=andreabolder.com%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2012%2F08%2Foprah-winfrey1.jpg&rurl=http%3A%2F%2Fandreabolder.com%2F2012%2Fown-your-excellence-10-entrepreneurial-lessons-from-oprah-winfrey%2F&size=94KB&name=OWN+Your+Excellence+-+10+Entrepreneurial+Lessons+From+%3Cb%3EOprah+%3C%2Fb%3EWinfrey+...&p=oprah&oid=64d6daf7bac6252a226d6bde26f7d06c&fr2=piv-web&fr=moz35&tt=OWN+Your+Excellence+-+10+Entrepreneurial+Lessons+From+%3Cb%3EOprah+%3C%2Fb%3EWinfrey+...&b=31&ni=96&no=47&ts=&tab=organic&sigr=12vhmvc6n&sigb=130hbd2j9&sigi=11u3hllk6&.crumb=XDjZLkwJpSs&fr=moz35)

dropzone
09-05-2013, 09:06 PM
In Prissy's defense, I understand that, in the book, she was a fine lady's maid from New Orleans and, therefore, not only knew nothing about birthing babies but was also determined to keep it that way. Her job, before the downfall of Tara, was to know how to iron pleats, fix hair, and teach Miss Scarlett some French. That is what a lady's maid, free or enslaved, did for centuries. Delivering, raising, or even looking at children was not in her contract as she saw it. In reality, following Emancipation she would have taken the first train back to New Orleans or up to New York, where there were people who could appreciate, and afford, her valuable skills.

JanetMLS, welcome to the SDMB! However, I disagree about forgiving Paula Deen her several peccadillos (it wasn't just that she said "nigger" once 30 years ago). I am not from the South originally, but I grew up in Virginia just a few years later than Paula grew up wherever it was where she grew up. I knew men and women of her parents' generation, and while they could say some nasty and thoughtless things, they are all long dead. The country has done a lot of growing up in the past fifty years, but some of what she has said and done shows that she's several decades behind where a woman her age should be. And her recipes are disgusting; I know because I ate some of that crap in the early '60s. Boiled dressing? GAAAAK! Now, a sweet vinaigrette with bacon bits, using some of the bacon fat instead of oil, heated and poured over lettuce to wilt the leaves, is some mighty fine eating, but the recipe I saw had a cup and a half of flour in it! It was not fit to slop hogs.